Skip to main content

Full text of "The Life of Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, and ..."

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 









** Let laurels, drench'd in pure Parnassian dews, 
Reward his memory, d^u to every muse, 
Who, with a courage of unshaken rooti 
In honor's field advancing bis firm foot, 
Plants it upon the line that Justice draws^ 
And will prevaili or perish in her cause." 



:.-- ^'". 

1 -t ' ' 


^ J « ■» > ' * 



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1834, by 
Mack & Andrus, in the office of the Clerk of the Northern 
District of the State of New York. 




» '• 

• • 

• *. 

* •. 

• • • 
* • • 

Astor, Lenox snd TDden 





. < «. - 
* fc I. 
• • .■ 











This work is a compilation exclusively ; and the only merit 
it can possibly claim, is in the collection and arrangement of 
the materials, and in the authenticity and correctness of its 
authorities. And, where facts and truths alone are sought, this 
acknowledgment cannot diminish the value of the production, 
or detract from its usefulness. Farther than what the writers 
quoted afford, neither the splendor of fancy, nor the facination 
of language, is to be expected from it ; its aim has been a plain, 
unvarnished statement of the prominent incidents in the life of 
its illustrious subject ; and if that is attained, the intention of 
the publishers is answered. The selections for this purpose have 
been made from various authors ; and the memoirs of Mr. Jef. 
ferson, composed by himlself, and prefixed to the volumes of his 
correspondence, has been the text-book by which difficulties 
and discrepancies have been obviated or reconciled. These 
memoirs, however, comprise but litUe of his lengthened and 
eventful life, and his letters have enabled me, in some measure, 
to supply the deficiency. Neither have I hesitated, in many in. 
stances, to employ the veiy words of my authorities ; conscious 
that jmy attempted amendment on my part, would not only be 
itttile, but, by misapplication of a phrase, might perpl^ the 
meaning. On this account, a variety of style will be perceptible, 
but not navin^ a tendency, it is imagined, to throw confusion 
in the facts related, or shroud expression in obscurity. To the 
'* American Biography,'* more than any other, I have been in- 
debted for date and incident. 

To present to the public a candid and impartial history of the 
life of Thomas Jefferson, has been the anxious desire of the 
compiler, though, in other respects, his ability may have fiiiled 
in the performance. This he hopes he has done ; and he has 
given in a portable and economical form, what "was before con. 
tained in, or appended to, books voluminous in bulk and eztravfti* 
gant in price. 

W. L. 





Ths Life of Thomas Jbfferson, author of the 
Declaration of Independence, President of the United 
States, and one of the most prominent actors in the 
stirring scenes of the revolution, cannot, we presume, 
be unacceptable to any American reader. The inci- 
dents of his distinguished life, his talents, the exalted 
stations which he filled, his intimate connexion with 
those illustrious men whom we delight to honor, and 
his association with the most important events in the 
revolutionary struggle, must always afford liim a con- 
spicuous place in the history of our country. Shaken 
as he has been by the storms of the time, and so furious- 
ly assailed by political opponents, there was danger, 
while they contemplated nothing beyond the downfall 
of the executive, that their weapons might pass through 
his shield, and strike into the bosom of their country ; 
yet now, when the fury of the day has passed over, 
candor will do justice to his talents, appreciate his 
merits, and render gratitude for his services. The 


clouds are rolling off from the darkened landscape^ 
and the excellencies of his character can now be dis- 
tinguished on the horizon in all their native brightness. 
It has been remarked, that certain stated times and 
periods have been prolific of great men. Nature- 
seems then to have exerted herself with a more than 
ordinary efibrt, and to have poured them forth with 
unusual fertility. But at no time or period did any 
country produce greater men, or those better qualified 
to conduct affairs to a successful issue, than at the com- 
mencement and during the progress of our combat for 
independence. The commanders were ardent and en« 
terprising, and possessing an almost intuitive knowl- 
edge of their profession ; our counsellors were firm, 
prudent and sagacious ; and the continental Congress 
possessed a collective body of wisdom which the world 
has seldom witnessed. The people themselves, enthu- 
siastic in the cause of liberty, deeply imbued with a 
detestation of tyranny, and with all their wrongs and 
remembrances about them, were brave and determined, 
unreplning in the midst of hardships, and free from 
cruelty and licentiousness. With such instruments, 
under the direction of a benignant Providence, the re- 
sult was glorious, and its effects and consequences have 
been beneficially felt over a great part of the globe. 
"History," said Professor Silliman in 1820, "presents 
no struggle for liberty which has in it more of the 
moral sublime than that of the American revolution. 
It has of late years been too much forgotten in the sharp 
contentions of party, and he who endeavors to with- 
draw the public mind from these debasing conflicts, 
and to fix it on the grandeur of that epoch, which* 


magnificent in itself, begins now to wear the solemn 
livery of antiquity as it is viewed through the deepen. 
log twilfght of almost half a century, certainly per- 
^rms a meritorious service, and can scarcely need a 
Justification." But if a subject of interest when c<»i- 
templated in this view — ^if to the philosopher it affords 
a profound and gratifying theory in his annals of marh-* 
how vastly more important, and what a matter of ex- 
ultation, must it be to those who reflect that it was their 
fathers who exhibited this noble spectacle to the world, 
and that the rights and privileges which they enjoy 
are the splendid result of their exertions ! Their char- 
^teTs must become not only the subjects of curiosity, 
but their names of enduring gratitude, and the events 
of their lives not only the theme of frequent conversa- 
tion, but familiar as household terms. It is under 
these impressions that these memoirs are presented to 
the public ; the memoirs of him whose name is one of 
the brightest in the revolutionary galaxy, 

Thomas Jefferson was descended from a family who 
Jiad long been settled in Virginia, the province of hijs 
nativity. His ancestors, according to a late biographer, 
had emigrated there at an early period ; and although 
bringing with them, as far as is known, no fortune be- 
yond that zeal and enterprise which are so useful and 
necessary to adventurers in a new and unknown coun? 
try, and no rank beyond a name which was free from 
dishonor, they had a standing in the community highly 
respectable, and lived in circumstances of considera- 
'ble affluence. " The tradition in my father's family," 
says the subject of this sketch, in his modest and in- 
teresting memoirs, " was, that their ancestor came to 


this country from Wales, and from nedr the tnoufttain 
of Snowden, the highest in Great Britain. I tioted 
oiice a case from Wales in the law reports, where a 
person of our name was either plaintiff or defendant, 
and one of the same name was secretary to the Vir- 
ginia Company. These are the only instances in which 
I have met with the name in that country. I have 
found it in our early records ; but the first particular 
information I have of any ancestor, was of my grand- 
father, who lived at the place in Chesterfield called 
Ozborne's, and owned the lands aflerwards the glebe of 
the parish. He had three sons; Thomas, who died 
young ; Field, who settled on the waters of Roanoke, 
and left numerous descendants ; and Peter, my father, 
who settled on the lands I still own, called Shad well, 
adjoining my present residence. He was born Feb- 
ruary 29, 1707-8, and intermarried, 1739, with Jane 
Randolph, of the age of 19, daughter of Isham Ran- 
dolph, one of the seven sons of that name and family, 
settled at Dungeness, in Goochland. They trace their 
pedigree far back in England and Scotland, to which 
let every one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses." 
Thomas Jefferson was born April 2, old style, 1743, 
at Shadwell, in Albemarle county, Virginia, and was 
the eldest of eight children. His father, though his 
education had been entirely neglected in early life, yet, 
being a man of strong mind and sound judgement, he, 
by subsequent study, acquired no inconsiderable know- 
ledge and information. His progress must have been 
not only rapid, but profound, since we find him appoint- 
ed in the year 1747 one of the commissioners with 
Joshua Fry, Professor of Mathematics in William and 


Mary College, for determining the division line between 
Virginia and North Carolina; an appointment no less 
creditable to his talents than his integrity, a confidence 
in the latter of which is peculiarly necessary in set- 
tling the boundaries between jealous and independent 
territories. After this service, he was again employed 
with the same gentleman to make a map of Virginia, 
the first which had ever been made, that of Captain 
&nith being indebted more to fancy and conjecture 
than to fact. . The father of Thomas Jefferson died 
August 17, 1757, leaving a widow, who lived until 
1779, and six daughters and two sons. To the young, 
est son he left his estate on James River; to the eldest, 
with whose life we are engaged, the lands on which 
he was bom, and lived, and died. . 

Young Jefferson was placed at an English school at 
the age of five years, and at a Latin one at the age of 
nine, where he continued until the death of his father. 
When that event happened, he was placed under the 
tuition of the Reverend Mr. Maury, whom he represents 
as a "correct classical scholar," and with whom he re- 
mained two years ; when in the spring of 1760 he en- 
tered William and Mary College, and continued there 
the space of two years more. At the latter place it 
was his great good fortune, and what he considered as 
fixing the destinies of his life, that Doctor William 
Small, of Scotland, was then Professor of Mathemat- 
ics in the institution ; "a man," says his pupil, "pro- 
found in most of the useful branches of science, with 
a happy talent of communication, of correct and gen- 
tlemanly manners, and with an enlarged and liberal 
mind." An attachment was soon formed between these 


congenial spirits, and they became daily and insepara- 
ble companions. From the conversaticms of this learn- 
ed man, and true friend, Jefferson confesses that he first 
imbibed his views of the expansion of science, and of 
.the system of things in which we are placed. 

Doctor Small returned to Europe in 1762, having 
first occupied the philosophical chair at the College, 
and filled up the measure of goodness to his young 
friend by procuring for him a reception as a student at 
law under the direction of the celebrated George 
Wythe, the most distinguished man of his age, one of 
the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and 
afterwards Chancellor of the state of Virginia. With 
this gentleman he was also united not merely by the 
ties of professional connexion, but by a congeniality of 
^ling and similarity of views alike honorable to 
them both ; the friendship formed in youth was cement- 
ed and strengthened by age, and when the venerable 
preceptor closed his life in 1806, he bequeathed his li. 
brary and philosophical apparatus to a pupil and friend 
who had already proved himself worthy of his instruc- 
tion and regard. 

In 1767 he was introduced to the practice of the law 
at the bar of the General Court of the colony, and at 
which he continued until the revolution. His legal 
career was not only pursued with zeal, but attended 
with overflowingvsuccess. In the short period he de- 
voted himself to it, he acquired an enviable reputation ; 
and a monument of his professional labor and legal 
research still exists in a volume of reports of adjudged 
cases in the supreme courts of Virginia, compiled and 
digested amid the engagements of active occupation. 


But his energy and talents were demanded by his 
fellow citizens for public life, and his country would 
not permit him to remain in a private station, or attend 
to ordinary afiairs ; their hopes and desires already 
pointed to him, and their interests directed his aim to 
higher objects and more extensive usefulness. As early 
as the year 1769 he was elected a member of the pro- 
vincial legislature from the county where he resided, 
and continued a member of that body until it was 
closed by the revolution. In consequence, he became 
associated with men who will always stand in bold re- 
lief among the first, the most ardent, and most deter- 
mined champions of our rights. 

While here, he made one strenuous but fruitless ef- 
fort for the emancipation of the slaves : so early had a 
love of liberty and a detestation of tyranny been im- 
printed on his mind. His failure is ascribed to the 
effect of the regal government, from which nothing 
liberal, or that innovated on established error, could 
expect success. The minds of the generality were 
fettered and circumscribed within narrow limits by an 
habitual belief that it was a duty to be subordinate to 
the mother country in all matters of government, to 
direct the colonial labors in subservience to her inter- 
ests, and even to observe a bigoted intolerance for all 
religions, but her own. "The difficulties with our 
representatives," he writes, "were of habit and despair, 
not of reflection and conviction." And thus this noble 
attempt was considered as the attempt of rashness, and 
met the fate of folly. And that which has since im- 
mortalized its authors and promoters, was first con- 
ceived by the mind and enforced by the eloquence of 


Jefferson, and adds no fluttering ^pinion to his deathless 

Ever since the year 1763, a spirit of oppomtion to 
the British government had heen gradually arising in 
the province of Virginia, and this spirit was rapidly in- 
creasing, owing to the arbitrary measures of the mother 
country, which seemed to be the result no less of mad< 
ness than determined oppression. The attachment to 
England was great in all the colonies, and in Virginia 
it was more than usually strong ; many of the princi-* 
pal families, according to a popular writer, ivere Gon> 
nected with it by the closest ties of consanguinity; the 
young men of talent were sent thither to complete their 
education in its colleges ; and by many, and those not 
the least patriotic, it was fondly looked to as theiif 
Jume* To sever so intimate a connexion could not be 
ail undertaking of ordinary facility \ yet sUch was the 
rash course pursued by the British ministry, that a v^ry ' 
brief space was sufficient to dissolve ih every breast 
that glowed with national feeling, those ties which had 
been formed by blood, by time, and by policy. A very 
short experience and a slight converse with the politi- 
cal history of the world were sufficient to convince ev* 
ery mind that there were no hazards too great to be 
encountered for the establishment of institutions which 
would secure the country from a repetition of insults 
that could only end in abject slavery. It cannot be 
doubted that Mr. Jefiferson was among the first to per- 
ceive and suggest the only course that could be adopted. 
The convictions of his mind, and ardor of his feelings, 
may, in some measure, be judged, from his recollections 
of the powerful efforts of the celebrated Patrick Henry, 


and of which he was a witness. " When the famous re*, 
solutions of 1765 against the stamp act were proposed, 
I was yet a student of law in Williamsburgh% I attend^ 
ed the debate, however, at the door of the lobby of the 
House of Burgesses, and heard the splendid display of 
Mr. Henry's talents as ia popular orator. They were 
great indeed ; such as I never heard from any other 
man. He appeared to me to speak as Homer wrote.'^ 
In Mr. Jefferson's opinion, Henry, one of the most em- 
inent, but at the same time the most indolent of men, 
was the first who gave impetus to the ball or the tevo- 
iution in the province of Virginia. Such are the effects 
of oratorial eloquence ! Its power is almost irresisti- 
ble ; it penetrates, says one who seems to have been un^ 
Aer the fascination bf its influence, into the inmost re- 
cesses of the soul. It is able to excite or to calm the 
passions of men at will ; to drive the multitude forward 
to acts of rashness, or to say to the contending passions, 
« Peace, be still ." It changes the whole current of our 
ideas conceirning the nature and importance of objects, 
and of our obligations and advantages respecting them. 
It rouses from pernicious indolence, and renders the 
sentiments and dispositions already formed most influ- 
ential* In a word, it has made of the human species 
both angels and monsters ; it has animated to the most 
noble and generous exertions, and it has impelled to 
deeds of horror. 

It is in allusion to the events of the same period that 
Mr. Jefferson writes : <« The colonies were taxed inter- 
nally and externally ; their essential interests sacrificed 
to individuals in Great Britain 5 their legislatures sus- 
pended ; charters annulled ; trials by juries taken 

14 LIFE OP J«t'FEfIs50N'. 

away ; their persons subjected ta transportation across 
the Atlantic, and to trial by foreign judicatories ; their 
supplications for redress thought beneath answer ; 
themselves published as cowards in the councils of their 
mother country, and courts of Europe ; armed troops 
sent amongst them to enforce submission to these vlolen- 
ces; and actual hostilities commenced against them. 
No alternative was presented but resistance or uncon- 
ditional submission. Between these, there could be no 
hesitation. They closed in an appeal to arras." 

In 1769, shortly after the election of Mr. Jefferson 
to the provincial legislature, these discontents arrived 
at their crisis. In May of that year, a meeting of the 
Greneral Assembly was called by the Governor, Lord 
Botetourt. To that meeting was made known the joint 
resolutions and address of the British Lords and Com- 
mons of 1768-9, on the proceedings in Massachusetts. 
Counter resolutions, and an address to the King, by 
the House of Burgesses, were agreed to with little op- 
position ; and a spirit manifestly displayed itself of con- 
sidering the cause of Massachusetts as a common one. 
The Grovernor dissolved the General Assembly in con- 
sequence of the sympathy which was thus exhibited by 
a majority of its members ; but they met the next day 
in the public room of the Raleigh Tavern, formed 
themselves into a convention, drew up articles of asso- 
ciation against the use of any merchandise from Great 
Britain, and signed and recommended them to the peo- 
ple. They then repaired to their respective counties ; 
and were all re-elected except those few who had de- 
dined assenting to their proceedings. 

On the first of January, 1772, Mr. Jefferson married 


the daughter of Mr. John Waylesof Virginia, an alli- 
ance by which he ai once gained an accession of 
strength and credit, and received, in the intervals of 
public business, that domestic happiness he was so well 
fitted to partake and enjoy. Its duration, however, 
was but short ; in little more than ten years, death de- 
prived him of his wife, and left him the sole guardian 
of two infant daughters ; to whose education he devo- 
ted himself with a constancy and zeal, which might, in 
some measure, compensate for the want of a mother's 
care and instruction. Mr; Wayles was an eminent law- 
yer of the province, and having by his great industry, 
punctuality, and practical readiness, acquired a hand- 
some fortune, he died in May, 1773, leaving three daugh- 
ters : the portion which came on that event to Mrs, Jef- 
ferson was about equal to the patrimony of her husband, 
and consequently doubled the ease of their circum* 

After the dissolution of the Virginia legislature in 
1769, nothing of particular excitement in the country 
occurred for a considerable length of time ; the nation 
appeared to have fallen into an apathy or insensibility 
to their situation ; although the duty on tea was not yet 
repealed, and the declaratory act of a right in the Brit- 
ish parliament to bind them by their laws in all cases, 
was still suspended over them. But they at length 
aroused from their stupor. A court of inquiry held in 
Rhode Island in 1762, with a power tosepd persons to 
England to be tried for offenoei? committed here, was 
thought to have aimed a deadly stab at the most sacred 
rights of the citizen, and as demanding the attention of 
the legislature of Virginia. The subject wai taken 


up and considered at the spring session of 1778. On 
this occasion, Mr. Jefferson associated himself with 
several of the boldest and most active of his com- 
panions in the house, ("not thinking," as he says 
himself, "the old and leading members up to the 
point of forwardness and zeal which the times re- 
quired,") and with them formed the system of Com- 
mittees of Correspondence, in a private room, in the 
same Raleigh Tavern. They were sensible that the 
most urgent of all measures was that of coming to an 
understanding with all the other colonies, to consider 
the British claims as a common cause to all, and to pro- 
duoe a unity of action ; and for this purpose, that a 
committee of correspondence in each colony would be 
the best instrument for intercommunication, and that 
their first measure would probably be to propose a meet- 
ing of deputies from every colony, at some central place, 
who should be charged with the direction of the meas- 
ures which should be taken by all. In furtherance of 
these views, the following resolutions were drawn up, 
and probably proceeded from his pen : 

" Whereas the minds of his majesty's faithful subjects 
in this colony have been much disturbed by various ru- 
mors and reports of proceedings tending to deprive 
them of their ancient legal and constitutional rights : 

" And whereas the affairs of this colony are frequent- 
ly connected with those of Great Britain, as well as the 
neighboring colonies, which renders a communication 
of sentiments necessary ; in order therefore to remove 
the uneasiness and to quiet the minds of the people, as 
well as for the other good purposes above mentioned : 

" Be it resolved, that a standing committee of corres. 


pondence and inquiry be appointed, to consist of eleven 
persons, to wit : the Honorable Peyton Randolph, Esq. 
Robert C. Nicholas, Richard Bland, Richard H. Lee, 
Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, Patrick Hen- 
ry, Dudley Digges, Dabney Carr, Archibald Gary, 
and Thomas Jefierson, Esquires ; any six of whom to 
be a committee, whose business it shall be to obtain the 
most early and authentic intelligence of all such acts 
and resolutions of the British parliament, or proceedings 
of administration, as may relate to or affect the British 
colonies in America ; and to keep up and maintain a 
correspondence and communication with our sister co- 
lonies respecting those important considerations ; and 
the result of such their proceedings, from time to time, 
to lay before the houses 

<< Resolved, that it be an instruction to the saidcomi^ 
mittee, that they do, without delay, inform themselves 
particularly of the principles and authority on which 
was constituted a Court of Inquiry said to have been 
lately held in Rhode Island, with powers to transport 
persons accused of offences committed in America to 
places beyond the seas to be tried. 

'* The said resolutions being severally read a second 
time, were, upon the question severally put thereupon, 
agreed to by the house nefrdne contradicente. 

" Resolved, that the Speaker of this house do trans- 
mit to the Speakers of the different Assemblies of the 
British colonies on this continent, copies of the said 
resolutions, and desire that they will lay them before 
their respective Assemblies, and request them to ap- 
point some person or persons of their respective bodies 


to communicate fcom time to time with the said com- 

The consulting members proposed to Mr. Jefferson 
to move these resolutions : but he urged that it should 
be done by Mr. Carr, his friend and brother-in-law, 
then a new member, and to whom he wished an oppor- 
tunity should be given of making known to the house 
his great worth and talents. It was so agreed : he 
moved them, they were adopted without a dissenting 
voice, and a committee of correspondence appointed, of 
whom Peyton Randolph, the Speaker, was chairman. 
The Grovernor, (then Lord Dunmore) immediately 
dissolved the house : but the committee met next day, 
prepared a circular letter to the Speakers of the other 
colonies, inclosing to each a copy of the resolutions, 
and left it in charge with their chairman to forward 
them by expresses. 

We would step aside one moment, for the purpose of 
introducing Mr. Wirt's description of the mind and 
manners of the gentleman who first presented these res- 
olutions to the house. " In supporting these resolu- 
tions," says he, "Mr. Carr made his debittf and a noble 
one it is said to have been. This gentleman, by pro- 
fession a lawyer, had recently commenced his practice 
at the same bars with Patrick Henry ; and although 
he had not yet reached the meridian of life, he was con- 
sidered by far the most formidable rival in forensic 
eloquence that Mr. Henry had ever yet to encounter. 
He had the advantage of a person at once dignified and 
engaging, and the manner and action of an accom- 
plished gentleman. His education was a finished one, 
his mind trained to correct thinking, his conceptions 


qtiiclc and clear, and strong ; he reasoned with great 
cogency, and had an imagination which enlightened 
beautifully, without interrupting or diverting the course 
of his argument. His voice was firmly toned ; his feel- 
ings acute ; his style free, and rich, and various ; his 
devotion to the cause of liberty verging on enthusiasm ; 
and his spirit firm and undaunted, beyond the possibil- 
ity of being shaken. With what delight the House of 
Burgesses hailed this new champion, and felicitated 
themselves on such an accession to their cause, it is easy 
to imagine. But what are the hopes and expectations 
of mortals ? In two months from the time at which 
this gentleman stood before the House of Burgesses, in 
all the pride of health, and genius, and eloquence, he 
was no more ! Lost to his friends and his country, 
and disappointed of standing in that noble triumph 
which awaited the illustrious band of his compatriots." 
We have similar testimony from a different pen. " I 
well remember," says an eyewitness, " the pleasure 
expressed in the countenances and conversation of the 
members generally in this debut of Mr. Carr, and the 
hopes they conceived, as well from the talents as the 
patriotism it manifested. But he died within two 
months ailer, and in him we lost a powerful fellow-Ia- 
borer. His character was of a high order, a spotless 
integrity, sound judgement, handsome imagination, en- 
riched by education and reading ; quick and clear in 
his conceptions ; of correct and ready elocution ; im- 
pressing every hearer with the sincerity of the heart 
from which it flowed. His firmness was inflexible in 
whatever he thought right; but when no moral princi« 
plc was in the way, never had man more of the milk 


of human kindness, of indulgence, of soflness, of pleas- 
antry in conversation and conduct. The number of 
his friends, and the warmth of their affections, were 
proofs of his worth, and their estimate of it." This 
was the first and only speech of Mr. Carr in the House 
of Representatives. He died the 16th of May, 1773, 
in the thirtieth year of his age. 

This system of corresponding committees between 
the legislatures of the different colonies, which was 
thus adopted as the best instrument for communication 
between the respective colonies, and by which they 
might be brought to a mutual understanding and a 
unity of action, has since been asserted to have arisen 
in Massachusetts, and Judge Marshall, in his Life of 
Washington, has fallen into the error. But Mr. Jef. 
ferson, and no doubt correctly, asserts the contrary. 
He imagines the mistake to have arisen from confound- 
ing together two distinct committees : adding, Thus 
in Massachusetts there were two committees of cor. 
respondence, one chosen by the people, the other ap- 
pointed by the House of Assembly ; in the former, Mas- 
sachusetts preceded Virginia ; in the latter, Virginia 
preceded Massachusetts. To the origination of com- 
mittees for the interior correspondence between the 
counties and towns of a state, I know of no claim on 
the part of Virginia, and certainly none was ever 
made by myself." And the letter of Samuel A. Wells, 
Esquire, to Mr. Jefferson, and the answer of the latter 
of May 12th, 1829, show conclusively that Massachu- 
setts did not adopt the measure, but on receipt of the 
proposition from Virginia, and which was delivered at 
their next session. 


On the twelfth of March, 1773, Mr. Jefferson was 
chosen a memher of the first committee of correspond- 
ence established by the colonial legislatures, the act 
already alluded to, as the most important of the revo-* 
lution in preparing the way for that union of sentiment 
and action from whence arose the first effective resist- 
ance, and on which depended the successful progress 
and final triumph of the cause. 

The year 1774 found Mr. Jefferson still actively en- 
gaged in his duties as a member of the legislature of 
Virginia. The passage by Parliament of the Boston 
Port Bill, by which that port was to be shut up on the 
first of June, 1774, was the next event which aroused 
the indignation and excited the sympathies of the 
house. It arrived while they were in session in the 
spring of 1774. It was at this crisis that Mr. Jeffer« 
son wrote, and the members, though not then adopting 
as resolutions, afterwards published his "Summary 
View of the Rights of British Ameripa ;" and in which 
iie maintained what was then thought by many a bold 
position, but which he considerd as the only orthodox 
and tenable one : that the relation between Great Brit- 
ain and the colonies was exactly the same as that of 
England and Scotland, after the accession of James, 
and tmtil the union, and the same as her present re- 
lation with Hanover, having the same executive chief, 
but no other necessary political connexion ; and that 
our emigration from England to this country gave her 
no more right over us, than the emigration of the 
Danes and Saxons gave to the authorities of the mother 
country over England. 

<* In this doctrine, however," says he, " I had never 


been able to get any one to agree with me but Mr. 
Wythe. He coincided in it from the first dawn of the 
question, What was the political relation between us 
and England ? Our other patriots, Randolph, the Lees, 
Nicholas, and Pendleton, stopped at the half-way house 
of John Dickinson, who admitted that England had a 
right to regulate our commerce and to lay duties on it 
for the purpose of regulation, but not of raising revenue. 
But for this ground there was no foundation in com- 
pact in any acknowledged principles of colonization, 
nor in reason : expatriation being a national right, and 
acted on as such by all nations, in all ages." 

This pamphlet is addressed to the king, as the chief 
officer of the people, appointed indeed by the laws, but 
circumscribed by definitive power, to carry into effect 
that institution of government erected by themselves 
for their use and benefit, and consequently subject to 
their superintendence. He reminded him that our 
ancestors had been British freemen ; that they had ac- 
quired their settlements here at their own expense and 
blood ; that it was for themselves they fought, for them- 
selves they conquered ; and for themselves alone they 
had a right to hold. That they had indeed thought 
proper to adopt the same system of laws under which 
they had hitherto lived, and to unite themselves under 
a common sovereign ; but that no act of theirs had ever 
given a title to that authority, which the British par- 
liament arrogated ; that the crown had unjustly com- 
menced its encroachments, by distributing the settle- 
ments among its favorites, and the followers of its for- 
tunes ; that it then proceeded to abridge the free trade 
lyhich the colonies possessed as of natural right with all 


parts of the- world ; and that afterwards offices! were es- 
tablished of little use but to accommodate the ministers 
and sycophants of the crown . That during the reign of 
the sovereign whom he Immediately addressed, the vio- 
lation of rights had increased in rapid and bold suc- 
cession ; being no longer single acts of tyranny, that 
might be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day ; 
but a series of oppressions pursued so unalterably 
through every change of ministers, as to prove too plain- 
ly a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing the 
colonies to slavery. He next proceeds, in a style of the 
boldest invective, to point out the several acts by which 
this plan has been enforced, and enters against them a 
solemn and determined protest. He then considers the 
conduct of the king as holding an executive authority 
in the colonies, and points out, without hesitation, his 
deviation from the line of duty ; he asserts that by the 
unjust exercise of his negative power, he had rejected 
laws of the most salutary tendency ; that he had defeat- 
ed repeated attempts to stop the slave trade and abol- 
ish tyranny ; thus preferring the immediate advantages 
of a few African corsairs, to the lasting interests of 
America, and to the rights of human nature, deeply 
wounded by this infamous practice. That, inattentive 
to the necessities of his people, he had neglected for 
years the laws that were sent for his inspection ; and 
that, assuming a power, for advising the exercise of 
which the English judges, in a former reign, had 
suf^red death as traitors to their country, he had dissol- 
ved the representative assemblies, and refused to call 
others. That to enforce these, and other arbitrary 
measures, he had from time to time sent over large 


bodies of armed men, not made up of the people here, 
nor raised by the authority of their laws. That to ren- 
der these proceedings still more criminal, instead of 
subjecting the military to the civil powers, he had 
expressly made the latter subordinate to the former. 
That these grievances were thus laid before their 
sovereign, with that freedom of language and senti- 
ment which became a free people, whom flattery would 
ill beseem, when asserting the rights of human nature. 

In all this we perceive the germe of that national 
declaration, which so shortly succeeded it ; many of 
the same bold truths, and in the same bold language. 

In these sentiments, however, bold as they were, his 
political associates joined with him ; they considered 
those acts of oppression directed against the coloniei 
Of New England, acts in which all were concerned, 
and an attack on the liberties and immunities of every 
other province. They accordingly resolved, that the 
first day of June, the day on which the Boston Port 
Bill was to go into operation, should be set apart by 
the members as a day of fasting, humiliation and 
prayer, * * devoutly to implore the divine interposition 
for averting the heavy calamities which threatened 
destruction to their civil rights, and the evils of a oivil 
war ; and to give them one heart and one mind, to 
oppose by all just and proper means every injury to 
American rights." 

Lord Dunmore, the royal Grovernor of the province, 
could not be otherwise than highly exasperated at such 
proceedings. Mr. Jefferson, who had boldly avowed 
himself the author of the obnoxious pamphlet, was 
threatened with a prosecution by him for high treason ; 


and the House of Burgesses was immediately dissolved 
after their daring publication. Notwithstanding these 
measures, the members met in their private capacities^ 
and mutually signed a spirited publication, setting forth 
the unjust conduct of the Grovernor, who had left them 
this, their only method, to point out to their countrymen 
the measures they deemed the best calculated to secure 
their liberties from destruction by the arbitrary hand 
of power. They told them that they could no longer 
resist the conviction, that a deftermined i^ystem had been 
formed to reduce the inhabitants of British America to 
slavery, by subjecting them to taxation without their 
consent, by closing the port of Boston, and raising a 
revenue on tea. They therefore strongly recommended 
a closer alliance- with the sister colonies, the formation 
of committees of correspondence, and the annual meet* 
ing of a General Congress ; and earnestly hoping that 
a persistance in these principles would not compel them 
to adopt measures of a more decisive character. 

The pamphlet having found its way to England, it 
was taken up by the opposition, and, with a few inter- 
polations by the celebrated Edmund Burke, passed 
through several editions. It procured for its author 
considerable reputation, and likewise the dangerous 
honor of having his name placed on a list of prosorip. 
tions in a bill of attainder, which was commenced in 
one of the houses of parliament, but was speedily sup- 
pressed. In the same bill the names of Hancock, the 
two Adamses, Peyton Randolph, and Patrick Henry, 
were inserted. 

We are now rapidly approaching the most important 


2A LtJF^E Oti' JEPIi'EftSODr. 

(»vent in the life of Mr. Jefferson, and in the histor;^ of 
his country. -^ ./ 

The year 1775 opened, in England, with isti^nuous 
attempts by the friends, and apparent ones by the ene- 
mies of the colonies, to effect a reeoBGiU^i<eqp«p The 
certain ititelligence which had been received of the 
transactions of Congress, and the astonishing concord 
which prevailed in America, made the ministel^ loath 
to embrace extreme counsels, and inclihed to relat 
somewhat of their rigor, and to leave an opening foi* 
accommodation. Lord North even intimat^d'lo the 
Americlm merchants then in London, that if thoy pre- 
sented petitions, they should meet attention. Biit iii 
the midst of these glimmerings of peace^ thci n^wa ar- 
rived of the sdhism of New York ; ^ ,eyent pf great 
moment in Itself, and promising consequences still more 
important. The minister felt his pride revive: he 
Would no longer hear df petitions or accoihmodatioili 
Things turned anew to civil War and strife. All the 
papers relating to the affairs of America, were laid be- 
fore the two houses^ The great Chatham, perceiving 
the obstinacy of the ministers in their resolution to 
persist in the course of measures they bed adopted, and 
fearing that it might result in the most disastrous ef- 
fects, pronounced a long and most extremely eloquent 
discourse in favor of the colonies, and was heard with 
solemn and rapt attention. 

After having repulsed with a sort of disdain the peti- 
tions of the colonies, and those presented in their favor 
by the islands of the West Indies, and even by Eng- 
land herself; and after having rejected all the counsels 
of the party in opposition, the ministers unveiled 


their schemes, and announced in the presence ixif the 
two houses the measures they intended to pursueyrin 
order to reduce the colonies to subjection. 

They pronounced that the province of Massachu- 
setts was found in a state of rebellion ; and it was 
proposed that in the address of the king it should be 
declared that rebellion existed in the province of Mas- 
sachusetts, and that it was supported and fomented by 
illegal combinations and criminal compacts with the 
other colonies, to the great detriment of many subjects 
of his majesty. This proposition of the ministers was 
put to vote, and carried by a majority of two thirds .of 
the house. 

Lord North then proposed a new bill, the object of 
which was to restrict the commerce <^ New England 
to Great Britain, Ireland, and the West India islands, 
and prohibit, at the same time, the fishery of New- 
foundland. This bill was also approved by a greitt 
majority. The opposition protested; the ministers 
scarcely deigned to perceive it. 

But the counsels of the ministers ended not here. 
Wishing to blend with rigor a certain clemency, and 
also to prevent new occasions of insurrection in the 
colonies, they brought forward the project of a law, 
purporting that when in any province or colony, the 
Governor, Ck>uncil, Assembly, or General Court, should 
propose to make provisions according to their respec- 
tive conditions, circumstances, and faculties, for con- 
tributing their proportion to the common defence ; such 
proportion to be raised under the authorities of the 
General Court or Assembly in each province or colony, 
and disposable by Parliament ; and should engage to 


make provision also for the support of the civil gov- 
ernment, and the administration of justice in such prov- 
ince or colony ; it would be proper, if such proposal 
should be approved by the King in his Parliament, 
and for so long as such provision should be made ac- 
cordingly to forbear, in respect of such province or 
colony, to impose any duties, taxes, or assessments, ex- 
cept only such as might be thought necessary for the 
regulation of commerce. This likewise received the 
usual large majority in its favor, with directions to 
lay it before the respective provincial legislatures. It 
was at least hoped that if the scheme did not finally 
succeed, it might produce disunion or discontent. 

Accordingly, on the first of June, 1775, this resolu' 
tion was presented by Lord Dunmore, the Gk)vemor, 
to the legislature of Virginia ; and Mr. Jefferson was 
selected by the committee, to whom it was referred, to 
frame the repl3r. This was done with so much force 
of argument, enlarged patriotism, and sound political 
discretion, that it will ever be considered as a document 
of the highest order. It concludes in these words: 

'* These, my Lord, are our sentiments on this impor- 
tant subject, which we offer only as an individual part 
of the whole empire. Final determination* we leave 
to the General Congress now sitting, before whom we 
shall lay the papers your Lordship has communicated 
to us. For ourselves, we hav^ exhausted every mode 
of application which our invention could suggest as 
proper and promising. We have decently remonstra<. 
ted with Parliament: they have added new injuries to 
the old. We have wearied our King with supplica- 
tions: he has not deigned to answer us. We have 


appealed to the native honor and justice of the British 
nation ; their effortB in our favor have hitherto been 
ineffectual. What, then, remains to be done ? That we 
commit our injuries to the even-handed justice of that 
Being who doth no wrong, earnestly beseeching him to 
illuminate the councils, and prosper the endeavors g£ 
those to whom America hath confided her hopes ; that, 
through their wise directions, we may again see re- 
united the blessings of liberty, prosperity, and harmony 
with Great Britain." 

When this address had been passed, Mr. Jefferson 
immediately proceeded 16 Congress, which was then in 
session, and gave them the first notice they had of il. 
It was highly approved of by 'them. He had been 
elected on the twenty-seventh of March, 1775, one of 
the members to represent Virginia in the General Con* 
gross already assembled at Philadelphia, but had de- 
layed his departure until now at the request of Mr. 
Randolph, who was fearful the draughting of the ad- 
dress alluded to would, in his absence, have fallen into 
feebler hands. An elegant biographer asserts : " When 
about to leave the colony, a circumstance is stated to 
have occurred to him, and to Mr. Harrison and Mr. Lee, 
his fellow delegates, that conveyed a noble mark of the 
unbounded confidence which their constituents reposed 
in their integrity and virtue. A portion of the inhabit- 
ants, who, far removed from the scenesof actual tyran- 
ny which Were acted in New England, and pursuing 
uninterruptedly their ordinary pursuits, could form no 
idea of the slavery impending over them, waited on 
their three representatives, just before their departurci 

and addressed them in the following terms : 



'^ You assert that there is a fixed design to invade 
our rights and privileges ; we own that we do not see 
this clearly, hut since you assure us that it is so, we 
believe the fact. We are ahout to take a very danger- 
ous step ; but we confide in you, and are ready to sup- 
port you in every measure you shall think proper lo 
adopt." On the twenty-first of June, 1775, Mr. Jef. 
ferson appeared, and took his seBl in the Continental 
Congress. In this new capacity he perse verefl in the 
decided tone which he had assumed, always maintain- 
ing that no accommodation should be made between 
the two countries, unless on the broadest and jnost lib- 
eral principles; and here, as elsewhere, he soon ren- 
dered himself conspicuous among the most able and 
distinguished men of the day. On the twenty-fourth 
of the same month, a committee which had been ap- 
pointed to prepare a declaration setting forth the causes 
and necessity of resorting to arms, brought in their 
report, (drawn up, as it was believed, by J. Rutledge,) 
which, not being approved of, the house recommitted 
it, and added Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Jefierson to the 
committee. It is on this occasion that Mr. Jefierson 
relates the following circumstance : " On the rising of 
the house, the committee having not yet met, I happen- 
ed to find myself near Grove rnor W. Livingston, and 
proposed to him to draw the paper. He excused him- 
self, and proposed tfiat I should draw it. On my pre^s^ 
sing him with urgency, *We are as yet but new ac- 
^[uaintances, sir,' said he, * why are you so earnest for 
my doing it?' 'Because,' said I, * I have been informed 
that you drew the address to the people of Great Britain^ 
a production, certainly, of the finest pen in America,' 



* Oa that,' says he, * perhaps, sir, you may not have beeo 
correctly informed.' I had received the information 
• in Virginia, from Colonel Harrison, on his return from 
that Congress. Lee, Livingston, and Jay, had been 
the committee for the draught. The first, prepared by 
Lee, had been disapproved and recommitted. The sec- 
ond was drawn by Jay, but being presented by Grov- 
emoc Livingston, had led Colonel Harrison inlo the 
error. The next morning, walking in the Hall of 
Congress, many members being assembled, but the 
house not yet formed, I observed Mr. Jay speaking to 
R. H. Lee, and leading him by the buttcm of his coat to 
me. ^l understand, sir,' said he to me, 'that this gen- 
tleman informed you, that Governor Livingston drew 
the address to the people of Great Britain.' I assur- 
ed him at once that I had not received that information 
from Mr. Lee, and that not a word h^d ever passed on 
the subject between Mr. Lee and myself; and after 
some explanations, the subject was dropped. These 
gentlemen had had some sparrings in debate before, 
and continued ever very hostile to each other. 

Mr. Jefferson prepared the draught of the declara- 
tion committed to them, ft was drawn whh singular 
•ability^ and exhibited his usual firmness and discretion; 
%ut it was considered as too decided by Mr. Dickinson. 
He still nourished the hope of a reconciliation with 
Great Britain, and was unwilling it should be lessened 
by what he considered as offensive statements.. He 
was so honest a man, says Mr. Jefferson, and so ahle a 
one, that he was greatly indulged, even by those who 
could not fe^l his scruples. He was therefore request- 
ed to take the paper and put it in a form he could ap- 


prove. He did so, preparing an entire new statement^ 
and preserving of the former only the last four para- 
graphs and half of the preceding one. The committee 
approved and reported it to Congress, who accepted it. 
Congress, continues Mr. Jefferson, gave a signal proof 
of their indulgence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their 
great desire not to go too fast for any respectable part 
of their body, in permitting him to draw their second 
petition to the King, according to his own ideas, and 
passing it with scarcely any amendment. The dis- 
gust against its humility was general ; and Mr. Dick* 
inson's delight at its passage, was the only circum- 
stance which reconciled them to it. The vote being 
passed, although further observation on it was out of 
order, he could not refrain from rising and expressing 
his satisfaction, and concluded by saying, "There is but 
one word, Mr. President, in the paper, which I disap- 
prove, and that is the word Congress;" on which 
Mr. B. Harrison rose and replied, " There is but one 
word in the paper, Mr. President, of which I approve, 
and that is the word Congress" 

Lord North's conciliatory resolution coming before 
the house, Mr. Jefferson, as one of the committee, was 
requested to prepare the report on the same. The an- 
swer of the Virginia Assembly on the same subject 
having been approved, will account for any similarity 
between the two reports, they both having proceeded 
from the same hand. 

On the eleventh of August, Mr. Jefferson was again 
elected a delegate from Virginia, to the third Congress. 
Though constantly and actively engaged during the 
winter in the various matters which engaged the atten- 


tion of the house, yet he seems rather to have demoted 
himself to objects of general policy, the Arrangement 
of ^eaeral plans and systems of action, the inrestiga- 
tlon of Important documents, and objects of a similar 
nature, than to the details of active business, fi^r which 
other members could probably be found equally well 

The eventful year of 1776 set in, and brought with 
it a new aspect, one of more energy, and with motives 
and objects more decided and apparent, " Eighteen 
months," says an able writer, " had passed away, since 
the colonists had learned by the entrenchments at Bos- 
ton, that a resort to arms was an event not beyond the 
contemplatign of the British ministry ; nearly a year 
had elapsed, since the fields of Concord and Lexington 
had been stained with hostile blood ; during this inter- 
val armies had been raised, vessels of war had been 
equipped, fortifications had been erected, gallant ex- 
ploits had been performed, and eventful battles had 
been lost and won ; yet still were the provinces bound 
to their British brothers by the ties of a similar allegi- 
ance ; still did they look upon themselves as members 
of the same empire, subjects of the same sovereign and 
partners in the same constitution and laws. They ac- 
knowledged that the measures they had adopted were 
not the result of choice, but the exercise of a right, if 
not a duty, resulting from this very situation, they 
confessed that they were engaged in a controversy pe- 
culiarly abhorrent to their affections, of which the only 
object was to restore the harmony formerly existing be- 
tween the two countries, and to establish it on so firm 
a basis as to perpetuate its blessings uninterrupted by 


any /uture dissensions to succeeding generations in 
both nations." 

But patience has its limits, though aggression and 
abuse may know no end ; and there is a period when 
the duty which man owes not only to himself but his 
posterity prohibits all further forbearance. Actuated 
by such feelings and sentiments, the Convention of 
Virginia, on the 15th of May, 1776, instructed their 
delegates in Congress to propose to that body to declare 
the colonies independent of Great Britain, and ap- 
pointed a committee to prepare a declaration of rights 
and plan of government. 

Every thing relating to so important a document as 
the Declaration of Independence must be«of vital in* 
terest ; a document which assigns the reasons for the 
separation of the colonies from Great Britain ; which 
appeals to heaven for the justness of their cause ; which 
bears the signatures of some of the firmest patriots that 
ever existed ; and which resulted in giving a new and 
mighty empire to the world. More particularly, in a 
work of this kind, is such notice due to a production 
which links inseparably the name of Jefferson to that 
of his country. Of its discussion from its commence- 
ment until its final adoption, we have for the first time 
a correct account in actual notes of Mr. Jefferson, late- 
ly published, and made at the* time. From these notes 
we propose to make liberal extracts of the most inter- 
esting matters : tjbe arguments of debate on each side 
are peculiarly so ; and that the public may have the 
information in a portable form. 

In Congress, Friday, June 7, 1776. The delegates 
from Virginia moved in obedience to instructions from 


tbeir' constituents, that the Congress should declare 
that these United Colonies are, end of right ought to 
be, free and independent states ; that they are ahsolved 
Trom all allegiance to the British crown, and tliat all 
political connexion hetween them and the state of 
Oreat Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved ; 
that measures should be immediately taken for procur. 
ing the assistance of foreign powers, and a confedera- 
tion be formed to bind the colonies more closely together. 

The house being obliged to attend at that time to 
some other business, the proposition was referred to the 
next day, when the members were ordered to attend 
punctually at ten o'clock. 

Saturday, June 8th. They proceeded to take it into 
Consideration, and referred it to a committee of the 
whole, into which they immediately resolved them- 
selves, and passed that day and Monday the 10th, in 
debating on the subject. 

It was argued by Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, E, 
J^utledge, Dickinson, and others — 

That though they were friends to the measures 
themselves, and saw the impossibility that we should 
ever again be united with Great Britain, yet they were 
against adopting them at this time : 

That the conduct we had formerly observed was 
wise and proper now, of deferring to take any capital 
step till the voice of the people drove us into it : 

That they were our power, and without them our 
declarations could not be carried intb efiect : 

That the people of the middle colonies (Maryland, 
Delaware, Penn^lvania, the Jerseys, and New York) 
were not yet ripe for bidding adieu to British connex- 


ion, but that they were fast ripening, and in a short 
time would join the general voice of America : 

That the resolution, entered into by this house on 
the 15th of May, for suppressing the exercise of all 
powers derived from the crown, had shown, by the fer- 
ment into which it had thrown these middle colonies,- 
that they had not yet accommodated their minds to a 
separation from the mother country : 

That same of them had expressly forbidden theii' 
delegates to consent to such a declaration, and others 
had given no instructions, and consequently no powers^ 
to give such consent : 

That if the delegates of any particular colony hiid 
no power to declare such colony independent, certain 
they were, the others could not declare it for them; 
the colonies being as yet perfectly independent of 
each other: 

That the Assembly of Pennsylvania was now sitting 
above stairs, their Convention would sit within a few 
days, the Convention of New York was now sitting, 
and those of the Jerseys and Delaware counties would 
meet on the Monday following,* and it was probable 
these bodies would take up the question of indepen- 
dence, and would declare to their delegates the voice 
of their state r 

That if such a declaration should now be agreed 
to, these delegates must retire, and possibly their col- 
onies might secede from the Union : 

That such a secession would weaken us more than 
could be compensated by any foreign alliance : 

That in the event of such a division, foreign powers 
would either refuse to join themselves to our fortunes, 


or, having us so much in their power as that desperate 
declaration would place us, they would insist on terms 
proportionahly more hard and prejudicial : 

That we had little reason to expect an alliance with 
those to whom alone, as yet, we had cast our eyes: 

That France and Spain had reason to he jealous of 
that rising power, which would one day certainly strip 
them of all their American possessions : 

That it was more likely they should form a connex- 
ion 'With the British court, who, if they should find 
themselves unable otherwise to extricate themselves 
from their difficulties, would agree to a partition of our 
territories, restoring Canada !o France, and the Flori- 
das to Spain, to accomplish for themselves a recovery 
of these colonies : 

That it would not- be long before we should receive 
certain information of the disposition of the French 
court, from the agent whom we had sent to Paris for 
that purpose : 

That if this disposition should be favorable, by wait- 
ing the event of the present campaign, which we all 
hoped would be successful, we should have reason to 
expect an alliance on better terms: 

That this would in fajot work no delay of any eflTectu- 
al aid from such ally, as, from the advance of the sea* 
son and distance of our situation, it was impossible we 
could receive any assistance during this campaigil : 

That it was prudent to fix among ourselves the terms 
on which we would form alliance, before we declared 
we would form one at all events : 

And that if these were agreed on,aiid our declaration of 

independence ready by the time our ambassador should 


38 LIFE OF /EFFEK»0.\. 

be prepared to aail, it would be as well, as to go into 
that declaration at this day. 

On the other side, it was urged by J. Adams, Lee, 
Wythe and others, that no gentleman had argued against 
the policy or the right of separation from Britain, nor 
had supposed it possible we should ever renew our 
t)onnexion ; that they had only opposed its being now 
declared : 

That the question was not whether, by a declaration 
of independence, we should make ourselves what we 
are not; but whether we should declare a fact which 
already exists: 

That as to the people or parliament of England, we 
had always been independent of them, their restraints 
on our trade deriving efficacy from our acquiescence 
only, and not from any rights they possessed of impos- 
ing them, and that so far our connexion had been fed- 
eral only, and was now dissolved by the commencement 
of hostilities : 

That, as to the King, we had been bound to him by 
allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his 
assent to the late act of Parliament, by which he de- 
clares us out of his protection, and by his levying war 
on us, a fact which had long ago proved us out of his 
protection; it being a certain position in law, that alle. 
giance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceasing 
when the other is withdrawn: 

That James IL never declared the people of Eng- 
land out of his protection; yetiiis actions proved it, 
and the parliament declared it : 

No delegates then can be denied, or ever want, a 
power of declaring an existent truth : 


That the delegates from the Delaware counties hay- 
ing declared their constituents ready to join, there are 
only two colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland, whose 
delegates are absolutely lied up, and that these had, by 
their instructions, only reserved a right of confirming 
or rejecting the measure: 

That the instructions from Pennsylvania might he 
accounted for from the times in which they were drawn, 
near a twelvemonth ago, since which the face of affairs 
has totally changed : 

That within that time, it had become apparent that 
Britain was determined to accept nothing less than a 
carte-hlanche, and that the King's answer to the Lord 
Mayor, Aldermen, and Common CJouncil of London, 
which had come to hand four days ago, must have sat- 
isfied every one of this point : 

That the people wait for us to lead the way: 

That they are in favor of the measure, though 
the instructions given by some of their representatives 
are not: 

That the voice of the representatives is not always 
consonant with the voice of the people, and that this is 
remarkably the case in these middle colonies: 

That the effect of the resolution of the lt5th of May 
has proved this, which, raising the murmurs of some 
in the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, called 
forth the opposing voice of the freer part of the people, 
and proved them to be the majority even in these colo- 

That the backwardness of these two colonies might 
be ascribed partly to the influence of proprietary pow- 


er and connexioas, and partly to their having not yet 
been attacked by the enemy : 

That these caClses were not likely to be soon remov- 
ed, as there seemed no probability that the enemy would 
make either of these the seat of this summer's war : 

That it would be vain to wait either weeks or months 
for perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that all 
men should ever become of one sentiment on any ques- 

That the conduct of some colonies, from the begin- 
ning of this contest, had given reason to suspect it was 
their settled policy to keep in the rear of the confeder- 
acy, that their particular prospect might be better, even 
in the worst event : 

That, therefore, it was necessary for those colonies 
who had thrown themselves forward and hazarded all 
from the beginning, to come forward now also, and put 
all again to their own hazard : 

That the history of the Dutch revolution, of whom 
three states only confederated at first, proved that a se- 
cession of some colonies would not be so dangerous as 
some apprehend : 

That a declaration of independence alone could ren- 
der it consistent with European delicacy, for European 
powers to treat with us, or even to receive an ambassa- 
dor from us : 

That till this, they would not receive our vessels in- 
to their ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of our 
courts of admiralty to be legitimate, in cases of capture 
of British vessels : 

That though France and Spain may be jealous of 
our rising power, they must think it will be much more 


fortnidable with the addition of Great Britain ; and wilt 
therefore see it their interest to prevent a coalition ; but 
should they refuse, we shall be but where we are; 
whereas, without trying, we shall never know whether 
they will aid us or not : 

That the present campaign may be unsuccessful, and 
therefore we had better propose an alliance while our 
affairs wear a hopeful aspect ; 

That to wait the event of this campaign will certain* 
ly work delay, because, during this summer, France 
may assist us effectually, by cutting off those supplies 
of provisions from England and Ireland, on which the 
enemy's army here are to depend: or by setting in 
motion the great power they have collected in the West 
Indies, and calling our enemy to the defence of the 
possessions they have there : 

That it would J[)e idle to lose time in settling the terms 
of alliance, till we had first determined we should enter 
into alliance : 

That it is necessary to lose no time in opening a 
' trade for our people, who will want clothes ; and will 
want money too, for the payment of taxes : 

And that the only misfortune is, that we did not en- 
ter into alliance with France six months sooner, as, be- 
sides opening her ports for the vent of our last year's 
produce, she might have marched an army into Ger- 
many, and prevented the petty princes there from 
selling their unhappy subjects to subdue us. 

It appearing, in the course of these debates, that the 
colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina, were not yet 

matured for falling from the parent stem, but that they 




were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most 
pudent to wait awhile for them, and to postpone the 
inal decision to July Ist : but, that this might occasiott 
•8 little delay as possible, a committee was appointed < 

to prepare a declaration of independence. The com- 
mittee were John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sher- f 
man, Robert R. Livingston, and myself. Ck>mmittee8 
were also appointed, at the same time, to prepare a plan 
of confederation for the colonies, and to state the terms 
proper to be proposed for foreign alliance. The com- 
mittee for drawing the declaration of independence de- 
■ired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and being 
approved by them, I reported it to the house on Friday 
the 38th of June, when it was read and ordered to lie 
Ml the table. On Monday, the 1st of July, the House 
resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and re- 
sumed the consideration of the original motion made by 
the delegates of Virginia, which being again debated 
through the day, was carried in the affirmative by the 
votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North 
Carolina, and Greorgia. South Carolina and Penn- 
sylvania voted against it. Delaware had but two 
members present, and they were divided. The 
delegates from New York declared they were for. 
it themselves, and were assured their constituents ' 
were for it; l>ut that their instructions having 
been drawn near a twelvemonth before, when re- 
conciliation was still the general object, they were 
enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede 
that object. They therefore thought themselves not 
justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to 


withdraw from the que^tioD, which was givea theixi^ 
The ccHnmittee arose and reported their resolution to the 
house. Mr. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, 
then requested the determination might be put off to 
the next day, as ha believed his colleagues, though 
they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in 
it for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question, 
whether the house would agree to the resolution of the 
eommittee, was accordingly postponed to the next day, 
when it was again moved, and South Carolina concur- 
red in voting for it. In the mean time, a third member 
bad come post from the Delaware counties, and turned 
the vote of that colony in favor of the resolution. — 
Members of a difierent sentiment attending that morn- 
ing from Pennsylvania also, her vote was changed, so 
that the whole twelve colonies, who were authorized 
to vote at all, gave their voices for it ; and within a few 
days the Convention of New York approved of it, and 
thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing 
of her delegates from the vote. 

Congress proceeded the same day to consider the 
Declaration of Independence, which had been reported 
and laid on the table the Friday preceding, and on 
Monday referred it to a committee of the whole. ^ The 
pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England 
worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of 
many. For this reason, those passages which convey- 
ed censure on the people of England were struck out, 
lest they should give them offence. The clause too, 
reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, 
was struck out, in compliance to South Carolina and 
Greorgia, who had never attempted to restrain the im- 


portation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wish- 
ed to continue it. Our northern brethren also, I be- 
lieve, felt a little tender under those censures ; for though 
their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they 
had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others. 
The debates having taken up the greater part of the 
2d, 3d, and 4th days of July, were, on the evening of 
the last, closed ; the declaration was reported by the 
committee, agreed to by the house, and signed by every 
member present, except Mr. Dickinson. 

The declaration, as it was originally presented to 
Congress, and as it was subsequently published to the 
world, is here given, as peculiarly proper to be inserted 
in a memoir of its illustrious author ; marking in ital- 
ics the words which were erased by Congress, and in. 
troducing between brackets the additions and substitu- 
tions that were made before it received the sanction of 
that body. It is as follows: 

" When, in the course of human events, it becomes 
necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands 
which have connected them with another, and to as- 
sume among the powers of the earth the separate and 
equal^ station to which the laws of nature and of na- 
ture's Grod entitle them, a decent respect to the opin- 
ions of mankind requires that they should declare the 
causes which impel them to the separation. 

"We hold these, truths to be self-evident: that all 
men are created equal ; that they are endowed by their 
Creator with [certain] inherent aud inalienable rights ; 
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap* 


{Miiefls ; that to secure these rights, govemments are 
instituted among m^i, deriving their just powers from 
the consent of the governed ; that whenever any form 
of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is 
the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to in* 
stitute new government, laying its foundation on such 
principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as 
to them shall seem most likely to efi^t their safety and 
happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that govem- 
ments long established should not be changed for light 
and transient causes ; and accordingly, all experience 
hath shown that mankind are more disposed to sufier 
while evils are su&rable, than to right themselves by 
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 
Bat when a l<mg train of abuses and usurpations, be^ 
gun at a distant period and pursuing invariably the 
same object, evinces a design to reduce them under 
absolute despoti»n, it is their right,' it is their duty, to 
throw off such government, and to provide new guards 
Ibr their future security. Such has been the patient 
sufferance of these colonies, and such is now the ne- 
cessity which constrains them to [alter] es^nge their 
former systems of government. 

*^ The history of the present King of Great Britain 
is a history of [repeated] unremiiting injuries and 
usurpations, among wMek appears no soUtary fact 
1o contradict ike uniform tenor of the rest ; hut aU 
have [all having] in direct object, the establishment of 
an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this 
let facts be submitted to a candid world, ^or the tndh 
rf iMch tee pledge a faHh yet unsvMed hy false- 


"He has refused his assent to laws the most whole- 
some and necessary for the public good. 

" He has forbidden his Grovernors to pass laws of 
immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended 
in their operation till his assent should be obtained ; 
and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to 
attend to them. 

" He has refused to pass other laws for the accom- 
modation of large districts of people, unless those peo- 
ple would relinquish the right of representation in the 
legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable 
to tyrants only. 

" He has called together legislative bodies at places 
unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository 
of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing 
them into compliance with his measures. 

"He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly 
and continually^ for opposing with manly firmness his 
invasions on the rights of the people. 

" He has refused, for a long time after such dissolu- 
tions, to cause others to be elected ; whereby the legis- 
lative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned 
to the people at large for their exercise ; the state re- 
maining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of 
invasion from without and convulsions within. 

"He has endeavored to prevent the population of 
these states ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for 
naturalization of foreigners, refusing to pass others to 
encourage their migrations hither; and raising the con- 
ditions of new appropriations of lands. 

" He has svffered [obstructed] the administration of 
justice totally to cease in some of these states, [by] 


refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary 

" He has made our judges dependent on his will 
alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount 
and payment of their salaries. 

'^ He has erected a multitude of new offices, hy a self- 
assumed power, and sent hither swarms of officers to 
harass our people, ^nd eat out their substance. 

*'He has kept among us in times of peace, standing 
armies and ships of loor, without the consent of our 

'* He has affected to render the military independent 
of and superior to the civil power. 

<^ He has combined with others to subject us to a 
jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowl. 
edged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of 
pretended legislation: 

« For quartering large bodies of armed troops among 

'< For protecting them, by mock trial, from punish- 
ment for any murders which they should commit on the 
inhabitants of these states : 

<<For cutting off our trade with all parts of the 
world : 

'^ For imposing taxes on us without our consent : 

'< For depriving us [in many cases] of the benefits of 
trial by jury : 

« For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pre- 
tended offences : 

''For abolishing the free system of English laws 
in a. neighboring province, establishing therein an ar- 
bitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so 



as to render it at once an example tiXkd §i instrtiment 
for introducing the same absolute rule into these «Me$ 
[colonies ^] 

"For taking away our charters, abolishing ouf 
most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the 
forms of our governments : 

<< For suspending our own legislattlfes, and declaf- 
ing themselves invested with powec to legislate for Us 
in all cases whatsoever : 

"He has abdicated government here, witkdramng 
Ms Governors, and [by] declaring us out of hw 
allegiance, and protection, [and waging war against 

" He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, 
burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our peo- 

"He is at this time transporting large armies of 
ibreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, 
desolation and tyranny, already begun with circum- 
stances of cruelty and perfidy, [scarcely paralleled in 
the most barbarous ages, and totally] unworthy th© 
head of a civilized nation. 

" He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive 
on the high seas to bear arms<against their country, to 
become the executioners of their friends and brethren, 
or to fall themselves by their hands. 

" He has [excited domestic insurrections among us, 
and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of 
our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose 
known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruc- 
tion of all ages, sexes, and conditions of e^xtstenee. 
"ffe has incited treasonable insvrrecUons of cur 


JUhw ekmnsy wiik the allurements of forfeiture and 
^m^imsatkm of our property. 

** He has toaged cruel war against human nature 
iimi^y vwiating its most sacred rights of Ufe and Ub' 
0r§jf in the persons of a distant people who never 
offended him, captivating and carrying them into slor 
very in anoiher hemisphere, or 4o incur misetdble death 
in their transportation thither. Tins piratical warfare^ 
the opprohium of unriDBL powers, is ^ warfare of the 
Cbsistian Kmg of Great Britain. Determined to 
keep open a market where mbn should "be bought and 
9gddj he has prostituted his negate for suppressing 
every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this 
aaeerahle eommeree. And that this assemhlage of hor- 
rors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is 
ntw excOing those very people to rise in arms among us, 
and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived 
them, by murdering the people on whom he also ob^ 
fruded i^em : thus paying off former crimes committed 
mgednst the liberties of one people, with crimes 
whieh he urges them to commit against the lives of 

''Ill every stage of these oppressions, we have peti- 
tiooed for redress in the most humble terms : our re- 
peated petitions have been answered only by repeated 

'' A prinoe whose character is thus marked by every 
aiet which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler 
of a [free] people who mean to be free. Future ages 
wiU scarcely believe that the hardiness of one man 
adventured, wiMn the short compass of twelve years 


50 LIFE OF jefkersok; 

ofify, to lay a fmmdatian so broad and so trndugmscd 
for tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in prmdf^ 
of freedom, 

^'Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our 
British brethren. We have warned them from time 
to time of attempts by their legislature to extend [an 
unwarrantable] a jurisdiction over [us] these <mr 
states. We have reminded them of the circumstan- 
ces of our emigration and settlement here, tio one of 
which could warrant so strange a pretension: thai 
ihese were effected eU the expense of our own blood and 
treasure^ unassisted by the wealth or the strength of 
Great Britain; that in constUudng indeed our several 
forms of govemmentf toe had adopted one common Kingf 
thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league nnd 
amity with them : but that submission to their parUa* 
ment was no part of our constitution, nor ever in idea^ 
tf history may be credited : and we [have] appealed to 
their native justice and magnanimity, as well as to 
[and we have conjured them by] the ties of our com« 
mon kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which were 
likely to [would inevitably] interrupt our connexion 
and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the 
voice of justice and of consanguinity ; and when OC' 
casions have been given them, by the regular course if 
their laws, of removing from their councils the disturbers 
of our harmony, they have, by their free election, re- 
established them in power. At this very time, tooi 
they are permitting their chief magistraUe to send over 
not only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch 
<tnd foreign mercenaries, to invade and destroy ue» 

Llf*E or JEFFERSON. 51 

Tke^e fads hate gken the last stab to agonizing of- 
ficHon, and manly spirit hids us renounce for e'der 
these unfeeUng brethren. We must enAeator to forget 
out former love for them, and hold them as we hold the 
rest of mankindf enemies in war; in peace friends. 
We might have been a free and a great people together : 
but a communication of grandeur and of freedom, it 
seems, is below their dignity. Be it so, since they will 
have it. The road to happiness and to glory is open 
to us too. We will tread it apart from them, and [we 
must therefore] acquiesce in the necessity which de- 
itoonces our eternal separation, [and hold them as 
we hold the rest of mankind; enemies in war; in 
peace, friends ! 

" We, therefore, the representatives of the United 
States of America, in General Congress assembled, 
[appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the 
rectitude of our intentions,] do in the name and by the 
authority of the good people of these states, [colonies,] 
reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the 
Kings of Qmeat Britain, and all others who may here- 
afUr claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dis- 
solve aU political connexion which may heretofore 
have subsisted between us and the parliament of Crreat 
Britain ; and finally, we do assert [solemnly publish 
and declare] that these United Colonies are, [and 
of right ought to be,] free and independent states; 
[that they are absolved from fill allegiance to the Brit* 
ish crown, and that all political- connexion between 
them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to 
he, totally dissolved ;] and that, as free and independ- 
ent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude 


peace, contract alliances, establish commeroe, and to 
do all other acts and things which independent states 
may of right do. 

<< And for the support of this declaration, [with a 
firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,] 
we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our for- 
tunes, and our sacred honor." 

The Declaration thus signed on the 4th, on paper, 
was engrossed on parchment, and signed again on the 
2d of August. 

Such was this famous declaration of the kidepea- 
dence of the United States of America, which necessa- 
ry, as it appears to have been, says Botta, was not, how- 
ever, exempt from peril : for although the greiU«r part 
of America perceived that the course of things must 
have led to fhis extremity, there were still many who 
openly manifested contrary sentiments. And th^ 
were unfortunately, more numerous in the provinees 
menaced by Great Britain than in any other. The 
American armies were feeble, the treasury poor, for- 
eign succors uncertain, and the ardor or the people 
might abate all at once. 

It was known that England was determined to exert 
all her forces for the reduction of the colonies, befi»re 
they should have time to become confirmed in their re- 
bellion, or to form alliances with foreign powers. If 
the American arms, as there was but too much reaam 
to fear, should prove unfortunate in the ensuing cam- 
paign, it could not be disguised that the people woold 
lay it to the charge of independence ; and that accord- 
ing to the ordinary operations of the human mind, tbey 


WtittU nit>Ufy r^rograde towards the opinions they had 
•fajnred. When despair once begins, the prostration 
0f energy follows as its imniediate consequence. But 
^e war was inevitable, all arrangement impossible, 
and the Congress urged by necessity to take a decisiTe 
resolution. On every side they saw dangers, but they 
preferred to brave them for the attainment of a deter- 
mkiate object, rather than trust any longer to the un- 
(MMTtain hope of the repeal of the laws against which 
tiiey were in arms. 

For it was even difficult to designate which of these 
laws were to be revoked. Some desired to have all 
Aose repealed which had been passed since the year 
17#3 ; others only proscribed a part of them ; and there 
w«sre ettll others whom a total abrogation would not 
have satisfied, and who wished also for the abolition 
ai some ancient statutes, in the heat of debates, pro- 
|i08itioo8 had been advanced to which it was impossi- 
ble that Great Britain should ever consent. Nor can 
k be denies], that the declaration of independence was 
eonformable to the nature of ^things. Circumstances 
would not have endured much longer, that a people 
like that of America, numerous, wealthy, warlike, 
ttod accustomed to liberty, should depend upon ano- 
Aer at a great distance, and little superior -in power. 
The English ministry could not shut their eyes to it ; 
and aiich^ perhaps, wasithe secret reason of their ob- 
duraey in attempting to load their colonies with heavier 
obains* It is also certain, that foreign princes would 
tt^ have (xmsented to succor, or to receive into their 
alUaoce, a people who acknowledged themselves the 

snJbjeels; whereas it might be expected that they would 



uaite to those of a nattoin, detenrnnedy tvt all haaauriv, 
to obtaia the recogniticm of its libeity and iiulefea* 
ence. In the first case, even victory would not haw 
given allies to the Americans; in the second, tbvf 
were assured of them only by showing themselves re« 
solved to sustain their cause with arms in haad« 

And none were more sensible of the d^culties aad 
dangers which surrounded them than the heroic 
who had affixed their signatures, either to thdir 
try's success, or their own destruction. Dr. Thatc^isr, 
in his Military Journal, relates a circumstance which 
may show the acuteness of their feeitngs, though im^ 
gaised under the sportive bitterness of raillery. ** Mr* 
Harrison, a delegate from Virginia,'' writes tiie doQ^ 
tor, " is a large portly man. Mr. Gerry, of MassaolNN 
setts, is slender and spare. A little time after thesoi* 
emn transaction of signing the instrument, Mr« Har- 
rison said smilingly to Mr. Gerry — ^ when the haagaig 
scene comes to be exhibited, I shall have the advan- 
tage over you on account of my size : all will be over 
with me in a moment, but you will be kicking in the 
air half an hour after I am gone.'" 

But, as to the disposition of the people themselves, 
the reception given to this celebrated paper on its pro* 
mulgation,* must have justified the hopes of tiie most 
ardent, and dispelled the fears of the most timid. It 
was every where hailed with jey, gladness, and ^itho» 
siasm ; and the most cautious, if they allowed the eerw 
tainty of an impending struggle, admitted its necessity 
and its great advantage. Nor were there any of those 
public demonstrations omitted which governments 
ai^ accustomed to employ on similai* occasions, to 


oiliate the fitvor of the people to their detdnnin«tioQ. 
lackqpQMdence was proclaimed, with great solemnitj, 
«t Philadelphia, the 8th of July. The artillery was 
fined, bonfires were kindled ; the people seemed aietii* 
ally delirious with exultation. On the llth, the mani- 
festo of Congress was published in New York, and 
was read to eaoh brigade of the American army, whioh» 
at that time, was assembled in the vicinity of the city : 
itw«8 reeeiyed with universal acclamations. The same 
evening, the statue of King Greorge III., which had 
jbeen erected in 1770, was taken down, and dragged 
^hRMigh the streets hy die sons of liberty. It was 
f^ei^ded that the lead of which it was composed should 
be converted into musket balls. These excesses, if 
Uameable in themselves, were not without utility U 
considered politically^ they excited the people, and 
hurried them on to the object that was derired. At 
Baltimore, independence having been proclauned in 
the presence of cannoniers and militia, the people 
oould not coirtain their enthusiasm. The air resound* 
fed with salutes of artillery, and the shouts that hailed 
the freedom and happiness of the United States of 
America. The effigy of the King became the sport of 
Hke populace, and was afterwards burnt in the public 

But, according to description, and the concurrent 
lasttnaony of Dr. Thatcher, who was there at the time, 
the rejoicings at Boston were the greatest of all. In- 
dependence was there proclaimed from the balcony of 
the state house, in the presence of all the authoritiesi 
oivil and military, and of an immense concourse of 
pec^e, as well from the city itself, as from the country* 


The garrison was drawn up in order of battle in KuXfg 
street, which, from that moment, toolc the name of 
State street; the troops formed in thirteen detaclw 
ments, to denote the thirteen United States. At a given 
signal, a salute of thirteen cannon was fired upon Fort 
Hill, which was immediately answered by an equal 
number from the batteries of the Castle, of the Neck^ 
of Nantasket, and of Point Alderton. The garrison, 
in their turn, fired thirteen salutes of musketry, each 
detachment firing in succession. The authorities and 
most considerable inhabitants then convened at a ban*- 
quet prepared in the council chnn^r, where tliey 
drank toasts to the perpetuity and prosperity of the 
United States, to the American Congress, to Creneral 
Washington, to the success of the arms of the confed* 
^racy, to the destruction of tyrants, to the propagation 
of civil and religious liberty, and to the friends of the 
United States, in all parts of the world. All the bells 
rung in token of felicitation ; the joy was universal, 
and its demonstrations were incessantly renewed. In 
the evening, all the ensigns of royalty, lions, sceptres 
or crowns, whether sculptured or painted, were torn in 
pieces, and burnt in State street. 

But in Virginia, according to a celebrated author, it 
would be impossible to describe the exultation that was 

The Virginia Convention decreed that the name of 
the King should be suppressed in all the public pray, 
ers. They ordained that the great seal of the c(Mn- 
monwealth of Virginia should represent Virtue as the 
tutelary genius of the province, robed in the drapery of 
an Amazon, resting one hand upon her lance, and hold- 


ing with the other a sword, trampling upon tyranny, 
under the figure of a prostrate man, having near him 
H crown fallen from his head, and bearing in one hand 
a broken chain, and in the other a scourge. At the 
jbot was charactered the word " Virginia," and round 
the efiigy of Virtue, was inscribed, " Sic semper tyran* 
fiisJ* The reverse represented a group of %ures; in 
the middle stood Liberty, with her wand and cap ; on 
one side was Ceres, with the horn of plenty in the 
right hand, and a sheaf of wheat in the lefl ; upon the 
other appeared Eternity, with the globe and the phoe- 
nix. At the foot were found these words, " Deus 
nobis hoc otiafecii,'* 

In the midst of these transports, nothing was forgot- 
ten that might tend to inspire the people with affection 
fer the new order of things, and a violent hatred not 
only towards tyranny, but also against monarchy ; the 
former being considered as the natural result from the 
' latter. 

Thus, on the one hand, the American patriots, by 
itJieir secret combinations, and then by a daring resolu** 
tion ; and on the other, the British ministers, at first 
by oppressive laws, and afterwards by hesitating coun- 
sels, gave origin to a crisis which eventually produced 
^e dismemberment of a splendid and powerful empire. 
So constant are men in the pursuits of liberty, and so 
obstinate in ambition. 

Paul Allen, in his History of the Revolution, re- 
marks : " The declaration of independence, once pub- 
lished to the world with such solemnity, gave a new 
character to the contest, not only in the colonies, but in 
Europe. Before this decisive step, the American peo* 


pie were regarded by many able and good men as well 
as sound politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic} 
rather as children struggling for doubtful privileges 
with a parent, than as men contending with men for 
their natural and undisputable rights. 

But this deliberate appeal to the nations of the earth, 
to posterity, and to the God of battles, gave a new po- 
litical character, an immediate dignity and manhood, 
to their cause. It was no longer the unholy struggle 
of subjects against their monarch — of children against 
their parents— of rash and turbulent men who never 
measure nor weigh the consequences of their deeds : 
it was no longer a contest for mere matters of opinion, ^ 
but for a national existence — ^for life or death. It be- 
came, under the awful sanction of that assembly, the 
temperate and determined stand of men who had en. 
trenched themselves within the certain and thoroughly 
understood limits of their rights-'-of men who had 
counted the cost dispassionately, and measured the event 
without shrinking— -of men who felt, deliberated and 
acted as the representatives of a whole people, conscious 
of their infirmities and their responsibility, knowing the 
might of their adversaries and the weakness of their 
friends, but determined to do their duty to their children, • 
and leave them their inheritance undisturbed and unim« 
paired. Or if that might not be, and the liberties of 
Englishmen were no longer the protection of their 
wives or the birthright of their children, to leave them 
as widows and orphans to the charity of Heaven." 

The declaration of independence was, of itself, a 
victory — a victory over the passions, prejudices, and 
iears of a multitude* It drew a line for ever, between 


the friends and the foes of America. It left no neu- 
trals. He who was not for independence, unconditional 
independence, was an enemy. The effect produced 
on the public mind by the boldness and unanimity 
manifested on this occasion by the delegates of the 
several colonies, operated on the general confidence of 
the people as much as a similar declaration would have 
done, had it been adopted and signed by the whole pop- 
ulation of the states. In the public exultation at the 
time, the murmurs of disapprobation were unheard, 
and the opposition to be expected from the discontented 
and factious, who were always a formidable minority, 
and in the very bosom of the country, was entirely 



It is one of the inconsistencies of human nature, that 
the British parliament should claim that authority over^ 
and impress those burdens on the colonists, against 
which, when applied to themselves, they had murmur- 
ed, protested, and rebelled. There cannot be a more 
striking parallel, than between the English revolution 
of 1688, and the North American revolution of 1776. 
In both cases, previous discussion had fairly put the 
disputed question in issue; each party to the dispute had 
fully weighed and settled its principles, its claims, and its 
duties ; the people of England and the people of Amer- 
ica were in both cases on the defensive ; not aiming at 
establishing new rights, or setting up new pretensions 
against old established despotism, but defending against 
encroachment on liberties which they had always en- 
joyed, and seeking new guarantees to secure them.— 
Broken charters, insulted legislatures, and violated ju- 
diciaries, arbitrary acts defended by arbitrary princi- 
ples, and injustice supported by violence, drove the 
English nation, in 1688, and the English colonies in 
1776, to declare that the respective sovereigns had ab- 
dicated the government. 

The American revolution was complete in 1776, but 
it still remained to defend it by arms. 

Llt*E Ot' JEF'FERSON. 61 

On Friday, July 12, 1776, the commiitee appointed 
to draw the articles of confederation between the thir- 
teen states, reported them to Congress ; and, on the 22d, 
the house resolved themselves into a committee to take 
them into consideration. The institution of new gov- 
ernment by a people reeking from tyranny and op- 
pression, is a sight, which, whilst it engages the solicit- 
ous attention of the patriot and philanthropist, is no 
less calculated to alarm their fears. Smarting from 
their wrongs, and still fresh in their indignation, it is 
to be apprehended that every curb of restraint will be 
removed, and that liberty may degenerate into violence 
or licentiousness. The French revolution reads a most 
terrific lesson on this subject. It was not so with 
those heroic men who had just placed their hands to 
the Declaration of Independence ; and the articles of 
confederation, if they do not guard against every evil, 
or provide for every future contingency, were yet the 
result of virtue and wisdom, and calculated for the pro. 
motion of rational freedom. The notes of Mr. Jeffer- 
son contain the earlier debates on some of these arti- 
cles; and as circumstances connected with the infant 
government of the country, and as displaying the 
powers of the most prominent men in it, to these notes 
we shall again have reference.* 

On the 30th and 31st of that month, (July,) and 1st 
of the ensuing, those articles were debated which de. 

* The course of deliberation was conducted- with profound 
tmereoy, and no other. record now remains of that wisdom and 
intelligence, of that capacious and accurate view of political 
science and ethical philosophy, which a discussion of the prin. 
mf}m of goyemment must have drawn forth from the accom. 
plished civilians who were members of that Congress. 

62 Life ot jei^f^ersoN. 

lermined the proportion, or quota, of money which 
each state should furnish to the common treasury, and 
the manner of voting in Congress. The first of these 
articles was expressed in the original draught in these 
words t " Art. XL All charges of Wai*, and all other 
expenses that shall be incurred for the coinmon defence, 
or general welfare, and allowed by the United States 
assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, 
which shall fare supplied by the several coloiiies m pro- 
portion to the number of inhabitants of every age, sex, 
and quality, except Indians not paying taxes in each 
colony, a triie account of which, distinguishing the 
white inhabitadtis, shall be triennially taken lind trans- 
mitted to the Assembly of the United States." 

Mr. Chase moved that the quotas should be fixed, 
not by the number of inhabitants of every condition, 
but by that of the white inhabitants. He admitted that 
taxation should be always in proportion to property ; 
that this was, in theory, the triie rule ; but that, from a 
variety of difficulties, it was a rule which could never 
be adopted iii pi'actice. The value of the property in 
eVefy state could never be estimated justly and equally. 
Some other measures for the wealth of the state must 
therefore be devised, some standard referred to, which 
would be more simple. He considered the number of 
inhabitants as a tolerable good criterion of propertyi 
and that this might always be obtained. He therefore 
thought it the best mode which we could adopt, with 
one exception only : he observed that negroes are prop- 
erty, and, as such, cannot be distinguished from the 
lands or personalities held in those states where there 
are few slaves ; that the surplus of profit which a norths 


ern farmer is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, 
dec. ; whereas a southern farmer lays out the same 
surplus in slaves. There is no morie reason, therefore, 
for taxing the southern states on the farmer's head, and 
on his slave's head, than the northern states on their 
farmer's heads and the heads of their cattle ; that the 
method proposed would, therefore, tax the southern 
states according to their numbers and their wealth con- 
junctly, while the northern would be taxed on numbers 
only ; that negroes, in fact, should not be considered 
as members of the state more than cattle, and that they 
have no more interest in it. 

Mr. John Adams observed, that the numbers of peo- 
pie were taken by this article as an index of the wealth 
of the state, and not as subjects of taxation ; that, as to 
this matter, it was of no consequence by what name 
you called your people, whether by that of freemen or 
of slaves ; that in some countries the laboring poor 
were called freemen, in others they were called slaves; 
but that the difference as to the stat6 was imaginary 
only» What matters it whether a landlord employing 
ten laborers on his farm, gives them annually as much 
money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or 
gives them those necessaries at shorthand. The ten 
laborers add as much wealth annually to the state, 
increase its exports as much, in the one case as the 
other. Certainly five hundred freemen produce no 
more profits, no greater surplus for the payment of tax- 
es, than five hundred slaves. Therefore, the state in 
which are the laborers called freemen, should be tax- 
ed no more than that in which are those called slaves. 
Suppose, by an extraordinary operation of nature or of 



law, one half the laborers of a state could, in the 
course of one night, be transformed into slaves : would 
the state be made the poorer, or the less able to pay 
taxes? That the condition of the laboring poor in 
most countries, that of the fishermen, particularly of 
the northern states, is as abject as that of the slaves. 
It is the number of laborers which produces the sur- 
plus for taxation, and numbers, therefore, indiscrimin- 
ately, are the fair index of wealth ; that it is the use of 
the word property here, and its application to some of 
the people of the state, which produces the fallacy. 
How does the southern farmer procure slaves ? Either 
by importation or purchase from his neighbor. If he 
imports a slave, he adds one to the number of labor- 
ers in his country, and proportionably to its profits and 
abilities to pay taxes ; if he buys from his neighbor, 
it is only a transfer of a laborer from one farm to 
another, which does not change the annual produce of 
the state, and therefore, should not change its tax ; that 
if a northern farmer works ten laborers on his farm, 
he can, it is true, invest the surplus of ten men's labor 
in cattle ; but so may the southern farmer, working ten 
slaves ; that a state of one hundred thousand freemen 
can maintain no more cattle than one of one hundred 
thousand slaves : therefore, they have no more of that 
kind of property; that a slave may, indeed, from the 
custom of speech, be more properly called the wealth 
of his master, than the free laborer might be called 
the wealth of his employer ; but as to the state, both 
were equally its wealth, and should, therefore, equally 
add to the quota of its tax. 

Mr. Harrison proposed, as a compromise, that two 


slaves sAiotild be counted as one freeman. He affirmed 
that slaves did not do as much work as freemen, and 
doubted if two effected more than one ; that this was 
proved by the price of Idbor : the hire of a laborer 
in the southern colonies being from £S to J&IS, while 
in the northern it was generally j&24. 

Mr. Wilson said, that if this amendment should ^ake 
place, the southern colonies would have all the bene- 
fit of slaves, whilst the northern ones would bear the 
burden ; that slaves increase the profits of a state, which 
the southern states mean to take to themselves ; that 
they also increase the burden of defence, which would 
of course fall so much the heavier on the northern ; that 
slaves occupy the places of freemen and eat their food. 
Dismiss your slaves, and freemen will take their places^ 
It is our duty to lay every discouragement on the im- 
portation of slaves ; but this amendment would give the 
jus irium Hherorum to him who would import slaves ; 
that other kinds of property were pretty equally dis- 
tributed through all the colonies : there were as many 
cattle, horses, and sheep, in the north as the south, and 
south as the north, but not so as to slaves ; that expe- 
rience has shown that those colonies have been always 
able to pay most, which have the most inhabitants, 
whether they be black or white : and the practice of 
the southern colonies has always been to make every 
fiirmer pay poll taxes upon all his laborers, whether 
they be black or white. He acknowledges, indeed, 
that freeoaen work the most ; but they consume the 
most also. They do not produce a greater surplus for 
taxation. The slave is neither fed nor clothed so ex- 

penavely as a freeman. Again ; white women are ex* 


66 UPE or jBprERsoK. 

empted from labor generally, but negro women are not. 
In this, then, the southern states have an advantage, as 
'the article now stands. It has sometimes been said 
that slavery is necessary, because the commodities they 
raise would be too dear for market if cultivated by free»- 
men: but now it is said that the labor of the slave is 
the dearest. 

Mr. Payne urged the original resolution of Con- 
gress, to proportion the quotas of the states to the num- 
ber of souls. 

Dr. Witherspoon was of opinion, that the value of 
lands and houses was the best estimate of the wealth of 
a nation, and that it was practicable to obtain such a 
valuation. This is the true barometer of weakh. The. 
one now proposed is imperfect in itself and unequal 
between the states. It has been objected that negroes 
eat the food of freemen, and therefore should be taxed ; 
horses also eat the food of freemen, therefore they 
also should be taxed. It has been said, too, that in 
carrying slaves into the estimate of the taxes the state 
is to pay, we do no more than those states themselves 
do, who always take slaves into the estimate of the 
taxes the individual is to pay. But the cases are not 
parallel. In the southern colonies, slaves pervade the 
whole colony ; but they do not pervade the whole con- 
tinent. That as to the original resolution of Congress, 
to proportion the quotas according to the soule, it was 
temporary only, and related to the moneys heretofore 
emitted; whereas we are now entering into a new 
compact, and therefore stand on original ground. 

August 1. The question being put, the amendmeot 
proposed was rejected by the votes of New Hampdare* 


MftflBaGhusetts, Rho^ Islaad, Coaaectiout, New York, 
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; ftgainst those of Dei- 
aware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina* 
Georgia was divided. 

The other article was in these words: "Art. XVII. 
In determining questions, each colony shall have one 

July 30, 31, August 1 . Present, forty-one members. 
Mr. Chase observed, that this article was the most 
likely to divide us, of any one proposed in the draught 
then under consideration : that the lai^r colonies had 
threatened they would not confederate at all, if their 
weight in Congress should not be equal to the numbers 
of people they added to the confederacy; while the 
smaller ones declared against a union, if they did not 
retain an equal vote for the protection of their rights. 
That it was of the utmost consequence to bring the 
parties together, as, should we sever from each other, 
either no foreign power will ally with us at all, or the 
different states will form different alliances, and thus 
increase the horrors of those scenes of civil war and 
bloodshed, which, in such a state of separation and 
independence, would render us a miserable people. 
That our importance, our interests, our peace, required 
that we should confederate, BfA that jnutual sacrifices 
«hould be made to effect a compromiise of this difficuU 
question. He was of opinion, the smaller colonies 
would lose their rights, if they were not, in some ior 
stances, allowed an equal vote ; and therefore that a 
discrimination should take place among the questions 
which would come before Congress. That the smaller 
Mates shcmld be secured in all questions concerning 


life or liberty, and the greater ones in all respecting 
property. He therefore pn^)osed, that in votes relating 
to money, the voice of each colony should be propcrr^ 
lioned to the number of its inhabitants." 

Dr. Franklin thought, that the votes should be so 
proportioned in all cases. He took notice that the 
Delaware counties had bound up their delegates to dis- 
agree to this article. He thought it a very extraordi- 
nary language to be held by any state, that they would 
not confederate with us unless we would let them dis* 
pose of our money. Certainly, if we vote equally, we 
ought to pay equally ; but the smaller states will hard* 
ly purchase the privilege at this price. That had he 
lived in a state where the representation, originally 
equal, had become unequal by time and accident, he 
jnight have submitted rather than disturb govem- 
flnent ; but that we should be very wrong to set out in 
this practice, when it is in our power to establish what 
is right. That at the time of the union between Eng- 
land and Scotland, the latter had made the objection 
which the smaller states now do ; but experience had 
proved that no unfairness had ever been shown them ; 
that their advocates had prognosticated that it would 
again happen, as in times of old, that the whale would 
swallow Jonas, but he thought the prediction reversed 
in event, and that Jonas had swallowed the whale ; for 
the Scotch had in fact got possession of the govern* 
ment, and gave laws to the English. He reprobated 
the original agreement of Congress to vote by colonies, 
and therefore^ was for their voting, in all cases, accord- 
log to the number of taxables. 

Dr. Witherspoon ppposed every alteration of the 


article. All men admit that a confederacy is neces- 
sary. Should the idea get abroad that there is likely to 
be no union among us, it will damp the minds of tin 
people, diminish the glory of our struggle, and lessen 
its importance ; because it will open to our view future 
prospects of war and dissension among ourselves. If 
an equal vote be refused, the smaller states will be- 
come vassals to the larger; and all experience has 
shown, that the vassals and subjects of free states are 
the most enslaved. He instanced the Helots of Sparta 
and the provinces of Rome. He observed "that foreign 
powers, discovering this blemish, would make it a han- 
dle for disengaging the smaller states from so unequal 
a confederacy. That the colonies should, in fact, be 
considered as individuals; and that, as such, in alt 
disputes, they should have an equal vote ; that they are 
now collected as individuals making a bargain with 
each other, and, of course, had a right to vote as indi- 
viduals. That in the Bast India Company they voted 
by persons, and not by their proportion of stock. That 
the Belgic confederacy voted by provinces. That in 
questions of war, the smaller states were as much 
interested as the larger, and therefore should vote 
equally ; and indeed, that the larger states were more 
likely to bring war on the confederacy in proportion as 
their frontiers were more extensive. He admitted that 
equality of representation was an excellent principle, 
but then it must be of things which are co-ordinate ; 
that is, of things similar, and of the same nature; that 
nothing relating to individuals could ever come before 
Congress: nothing but what would respect colonies. 
He distinguished between an incorporating and a 


federal union. The union of England was an incorpo- 
rating one ; yet Scotland had suffered by that union, 
for that its inhabitants were drawn from it by the hopes 
of places and employments ; nor was it an instance of 
equality of representation ; because, while Scotland 
was allowed nearly a thirteenth of representation, they 
were to pay only one fortieth of the land tax. He ex- 
pressed his hopes, that in the present enlightened state 
of men's minds, we might expect a lasting confederacy, 
if it was founded on fair principles. 

John Adams advocated the voting in proportion to 
numbers. He said, that we stand here as the repre- 
sentatives of the people ; that in some states the people 
are many, in others they are few ; that therefore, their 
vote here should be proportioned to the numbers from 
whom it comes. Reason, justice, and equity, never 
had weight enough on the face of the earth to govern 
the councils of men. It is interest alone which -does 
it, and it is interest alone which can be trusted ^ that, 
therefore, the interests within doors should be the 
mathematical representatives of the interests without 
doors; that the individuality of the colonies is a mere 
sound. Does the individuality of a colony increase 
its wealth or numbers ? If it does, pay equally. If 
it does not add weight in the scale of the confederacy, 
i( cannot add to their rights nor weigh in argument 
A. has £50, B. £500, and C. £1000 in partnership. 
Is it just they should equally dispose of the moneys of 
the partnership ? It has been said we are independent 
individuals, niaking « bargain together : the question 
i» not, what ve are now, but ^hat we ought to be 
when our bargain shall j^ made. The popfed^racy is 

Life o^ jEFFsiRsdN. 71 

to make us one individual only ; it is to form us, like 
separate parcels of metal, into one common mass. We 
shall no longer retain our separate individuality, but 
become a single individual as to all questions submit* 
ted to the confederacy. Therefore, all those reasona 
which prove the justice and expediency of equal repre- 
sentation in other assemblies, hold good here. It has 
been objected, tliat a proportionable vote will endanger 
the smaller states. We answer, that an equal vote will 
endanger the larger. Virginia, Pennsylvania^ and 
Massachusetts, are the three greater colonies. Con. 
sider their distance, their difference of produce, of in. 
terests, and of manners, and it is apparent they can 
never have an interest or inclination to combine for 
the oppression of the smaller ; that the smaller will 
naturally divide on all qiiestioiis with the larger. — 
Rhode Island, from its relation, similarity, and inter- 
course, will generally pUrsue the same objects with 
Massachusetts ; Jersey, DetitWai'e, and Maryland, witf) 

Dr. Rush took notice^ that the decay of the liberties 
of the Dutch republic proceeded from three causes : 
1. l^he perfect unanimity requisite on all occasions: 
i. 'Their obligation to consult their constituents: 3. 
Their voting by provinces. This last destroyed the 
equality of representation, and the liberties of Great 
Britain also are sinking from the same defect. Thai 
a part of our rights is deposited in the hands of our 
legislatures. There, it was admitted, there should be 
an equality of representation. Another part of our 
rights is deposited in the hands of Congress : why is it 
not equally necessary, there should be an equal repre- 


sentation there ? Were it possible to collect the whole 
body of the people together, they would determine the 
questions submitted to them by their majority. Why 
should wot the same majority decide when voting here, 
by their representatives ? The larger colonies are so 
providentially divided in situation, as to render every 
fear of their combining visionary. Their interests 
are diiSerent, and their circumstances dissimilar. It is 
more probable they will become rivals, and leave it. in 
the power of the smaller states to give preponderancie 
to any scale they please. The voting by the number 
of free inhabitants, will have one excellent effect, that 
of inducing the colonies to discourage slavery^ and to 
encourage the increase of their free inhabitants. 

Mr. Hopkins observed, that there were four larger, 
four smaller, and four middle-sized colonies. That 
the four largest would contain more than half the 
inhabitants of the confederating states, and therefore 
would govern the others as they should please. That 
history affords no instance of such a thing as equal 
representation. The Germanic body votes by states. 
The Helvetic body does the same; and so does the 
Belgic confederacy. That too little is known of the 
ancient confederations, to say what was their practice. 

Mr. Wilson thought, that taxation should be in pro- 
portion to wealth, but that representation should accord 
with the number of freemen. That government is a 
collection or result of the wills of all ; that if any 
government could speak the will of all, it would be 
perfect; and that so far as it departs from this, it be- 
comes imperfect. It has been said, that Congress is a 
representation of states, not of individuals. I say that 

Life dp jbfferson. t3 

the objects df its- care are all the individuals of the 
states. It is strange, that annexing the name of * State * 
to ten thousand men, should give them an equal right 
with forty thousand. This niust-be the effect of tna. 
jic, not of reason. As to those niatters which are 
referred to Congress, we are not so many states ; we 
are one large state. We lay aside our individuality 
whenever we cbnie herie. The Germanic body is a 
burlesque on government ; and their practice on any 
point, is a sufficient authority and proof that it is wrong. 
The greatest imperfection in the constitutioti of the 
Belgic confederacy is their voting bjr provinces.— 
The interest of the whole is constantly sacrificed to 
that of the small states. The history of the war in the 
reign of Queen Anne, sufficiently proves this. It is 
asked, shall nine colonies put it into the powef of four 
to govern them as they please ? I invert the question, 
and ask, shall two millions of people pUt it into the 
power of* one million to govern them as they please ? 
It is pretended, too, that the smaller colonies will be in 
danger from the greater. Speak in hopest language, 
and say, the minority will be in danger from the ma* 
jority* And is there an assembly on earth, where this 
danger may not be equally pretended ? The truth is, 
that our proceedings will then be consentaneous with the 
interests of the majority, and so they ought to be. 
The probability is much greater, that the larger states 
will disagree, than that they will combine. I defy 
the wit of man to invent a possible case, or to suggest 
any one thing on earth, which shall be for the interests 
of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and 



which will not also he for the interests of the other 

These articles, reported July 12, '76, were debated 
from day to day and time to time, for two years, and 
were ratified July 9, '78, by ten states, by New Jersey 
on the 26th of November of the same year, and by 
Delaware on the 23d of February following. Mary- 
land alone held off two years more, acceding to them 
March 1, '81, and thus closing the obligation. 

Our delegation, says Mr. Jefferson, had been renew, 
ed for the ensuing year, commencing August 11 ; but 
the new government was now organized, a meeting of 
the legislature was to be held in October, and I had 
been elected a member by my county. I knew that 
our legislation under the regal government had many 
very vicious points which urgently required refbrma- 
tion, and I thought I could be of more use in forward* 
ing that work. I therefore retired from my seat in 
Congress on the 2d of September, resigned it, and 
took my place in the legislature of my state on the 
7th of October, 

In this situation he was indefatigable in his labors 
to improve the imperfect constitution of the state, which 
had been recently and hastily adopted before a draught 
of one, which he had formed on the purest principles 
of republicanism, had reach the Convention, which 
was deliberating at Richmond. This Convention was 
no sooner assembled than they had immediately pro. 
ceeded to the formation of a new plan of government; 
and^ with a haste which abandoned all discretion^ a 
ooi)fititution was adopted in the succeeding .pioiitb. 
Mr. Jefferson was M this time absent in Philadelphia, 


as a delegate to Congress; but he had, for a long time 
previous, devoted unmitigated reflection and research 
to rftatunng a plan for a new government, and had 
already formed one well adapted to all the waats and 
privileges oF democratic freemen. This draught was 
transmitted by him to the Convention; but unfortu- 
nately, the one that they had framed, had received a 
final vote in its favor on the day Mr. Jefferson's reach- 
ed its destination. The debate had already been ardent 
and protracted, the members were wearied and exhaust- 
ed, and after making a few alterations, and adopting 
entire the masterly preamble which Mr. Jefferson had 
prefixed, it was thought expedient for the present, to 
adhere to the original plan, imperfect as on all hands 
it was acknowledged to be. 

The extremes of right and wrong are said very 
closely to approach each other; and according to a 
discriminating writer, an incident in the political his. 
tory of Virginia does not invalidate the maxim. In 
June, a constitution had been adopted, breathing in 
every article the most vehement spirit of equal rights, 
and established on the downfall of arbitrary rule. No 
later than the following December, a serious proposi- 
tion was made to establish a Dictator, "invested with 
every power, legislative, executive, and judiciary, civil 
and military, of life and of death, over our persons 
and over our properties." To the wise and good of 
every party, to the patriot and philanthropist, such a 
scheme could not but appear as absurd as its success 
would be tyrannical and awfully dangerous. In Mr. 
Jefferson it found a ready and efficient opponent at the 


time, and be has devoted to its consideration and ceB« 
sure, a few pages of his later works. 

But the chief service which Mr. Jefferson performed 
as a member of the legislature, was as one of a com^ 
mission for revising the laws, consisting, besides him« 
self, of Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe, George 
Mason, and Thomas Ludwell Lee, by whom no less 
than one hundred and twenty-six bills were prepared, 
from which are derived all the most liberal features of 
the existing laws of the commonwealth. The shaie 
of Mr. Jefferson in this great task was prominent and 
laborious^t To him Virginia is indebted for the laws 
prohibiting the future importation of slaves; convert- 
ing estates tail into fee simple ; annulling the righta 
of primogeniture ; establishing schools for general ed- ' 
ucation; sanctioning the right of expatriation, and 
confirming the rights of freedom in religious opinion ; 
which were all introduced by him, and were adopted at 
the time they were first proposed, or at a subsequent 
period ; and in addition to these, he brought forward a 
law proportioning crimes and punishments, which was 
aflerwards passed under a different modification. 

His own account of the passage of some of these 
laws, the evils they were intended to remedy, and the 
opposition they overcame, must be gratifying to those 
who are concerned in the fame of their author. We 
have his own desoription. First, in relation to the law 
deolaring tenants in tail to hold in fee simple. " In 
the earlier times, of the colony," he informs us, "when 
lands were to be obtained for little or nothing, some 
provident individuals procured large grants ; and de- 
•irous of founding great families for themselves, settled 


them on their descendants in fee tail. The transmis- 
slon of this property from generation to generation, in 
the same name, raised up a distinct set of families, who 
being privileged by law in the perpetuation of their 
wealth, were thus formed into a Patrician order, dis- 
tinguished by the splendor and luxury of their estab- 
lishments. From this order, too, the King habitually 
selected his counsellors of state ; the hope of which 
distinction devoted the whole corps to the interest and 
will of the crown. To annul this privilege, and in- 
stead of an aristocracy of wealth, of more harm and 
danger than benelfit to society, to make an opening for 
the aristocracy of virtue and talent, which nature had 
wisely provided for the direction of the interests of so- 
ciety, and scattered with equal hand through all its con- 
ditions, was deemed essential to a well ordered repub- 
lic. To effect it, no violence was necessary, no de- 
privation of natural right, but rather an enlargement 
of it, by a repeal of the law. For this would author- 
ize the present holder to divide the property among 
his children equally, as his affections were divided ; 
and would place them, by natural generation, on the 
level of their fellow citizens. But this repeal was 
strongly opposed by Mr. Pendleton, who was zealous- 
ly attached to ancient establishments ; and who, taken 
all in all, was the ablest man in debate I have ever 
met with. He had not, indeed, the poetical fancy 
of Mr. Henry, his sublime imagination, his lofty and 
overwhelming diction ; but he was cool, smooth, and 
persuasive; his language flowing, chaste, and embelr 
lished; his conceptions quick, acute and full of re- 
source 5 never vanquished ; for if be lost the ITiftin bat- 



he returned upon you, and regained 80 much of it 

make it a drawn one, by dexterous manoBUvres, 
rmishes in detail, and the recovery of small advan- 
es, which, little singly, were important altogether. 
a never knew when you were clear of him, but were 
•assed by his perseverance, until the patience was 
rn down of all who had less of it than himself.— 
d to this, that he was one of the most virtuous and 
levolent of men, the kindest friend, the most amiable 
i pleasant of companions, which ensured a favora- 

1 reception to whatever came from him. Finding 
vt the general principle of entails could not be main- 
ned, he took his stand on an amendment which he 
>posed, instead of an absolute abolition, to permit the 
lant in tail to convey in fee simple, if he chose it: 
d he was within a few votes of saving so much of 
3 old law. But the bill passed finally for entire 


« In that one of the bills for organizing our judiciary 
stem which proposed a court of chancery, I had pro- 
led for a trial by jury of all matters of fact, in that as 
3II as in the courts of law. He defeated it by the in- 
jduction of four words only— if either party choose. 
he consequence has been, that as no suitor will say 

his judge— Sir, I distrust you, give me a jury-^ 
Ties are rarely, I might say, perhaps never, seen in 
lat court, but when called for by the Chancellor of 
s own accord." 

As it respects the prohibiting the future importation 
•slaves, he continues: "The first establishment in 
irginia, which became permanent, was made in 1607. 
have found no mention of negroes in the. colcmy un- 


til about 1650. The first brought here as slaves, were 
by a Dutch ship; after which, the English commenced 
the trade, and continued it until the revolutionary war. 
That suspended, ipso facto, their further importation 
for the present, and the business of the war pressing 
constantly on the legislature, this subject was not act- 
ed on finally until the year '78, when I brought in a 
bill to prevent their further importation. This passed 
without opposition, and stopped the increase of the 
evil by importation, leaving to future efforts its final 

As it regards the free exercise of opinion in. matters 
of religion, he remarks : " The first settlers of this 
colony were Englishmen, loyal subjects to their King 
and church ; and the grant to Sir Walter Raleigh con- 
tained an express proviso, that their laws should not be 
against the true Christian faith, now professed in the 
church of England. As soon as the state o£ the colo- 
ny admitted, it was divided into parishes, in each of 
which was esiablished a minister of the Anglican 
church, endowed with a fixed salary in tobacco, a 
glebe house and land, with the other necessary appen- 
dages. To meet these expenses, all the inhabitants of 
the parishes were assessed, whether they were or not 
members of the established church. Towards Qua- 
kers, who came here, they were most cruelly intole* 
rant, driving them from the colony by the severest 
penalties. In process of time, however, other secta- 
risms were introduced, chiefly of the Presbyterian fam- 
ily ; and the established clergy, secure for life in their 
glebes and salaries, adding to these, generally, the 
emoluments of a classical school, found employment 


enough in their farms and school-rooms for the rest of 
the week, and devoted Sunday only to the edification of 
their flock, by service, and a sermon at their parish 
church. Their other pastoral functions were little at- 
tended to. Against this inactivity, the zeal and indus- 
try of sectarian preachers had an oj^n and undisputed 
Aeld ; and by the time of the revolution, a majority of 
the inhabitants had become dissenters from the estab- 
lished church, but were still obliged to pay contribu- 
tions to support the pastors of the minority. This un- 
right^us compulsion to maintain teachers of what they 
deem^ religious errors, was grievously felt during 
the regal government and without a hope of relief. 
But the first republican legislature, which met in '76, 
was crowded with petitions to abolish this spiritual 
tyranny. These brought on the severest contests in 
which I have ever been engaged. Our great oppo- 
nents were Mr. Pendleton and Robert Carter Nicho- 
las; honest men, but zealous churchmen. The peti- 
tions were referred to the committee of the whole house 
on the state of the country ; and, after desperate con- 
tests in that committee, almost daily, from the 11th of 
October to the 5th of December, we prevailed so far 
only as to repeal the laws which rendered criminal the 
maintenaqce of any religious opinions, the forbearance 
of repairing to church, or the exercise of any mode of 
worship: and further, to exempt dissenters from con- 
tributions to the support of the established church; and 
to suspend, only until the next session, levies on the 
menibers of the church for the salaries of their own 
incumbents. For although the majority of our cit- 
izens were dissenters, as has been observed, a inajority 

I4F£ OF J£PFER80N« 81 

of the legislature were churchmen. Among these, 
however, were some reasonable and liberal men, who 
enabled us, on some points, to obtain feeble majorities. 
But our opponents carried, in the general resolutions of 
the committee of November 19, a declaration, that re- 
ligious assemblies ought to be regulated, and that pro- 
vision ought to be made for continuing the succession 
of the clergy, and superintending their conduct. And 
in the bill now passed, was inserted an express reser« 
vation of the question, Whether a general assessment 
should not be established by law, on every one, to th« 
8Ufi|)ort of the pastor of his choice ; or whether all 
should be left to voluntary contributions : and on this 
question, debated at every session from '76 to '79, (some 
of our dissenting allies having now secured their par- 
ticular object, going over to the advocates of a general 
assessment,) we could only obtain a suspension from 
ajsssicm to session until '79, when the question against 
a general assessment was finally carried, and the es* 
tablishment of the Anglican church entirely put down. 
In justice to the two honest but zealous opponents 
whom I have named, I must add, that although, from 
their natural temperaments, they were more disposecl 
generally to acquiesce in things as they are, than to risk 
innovations ; yet, whenever the public will had once 
decided, none were more faithful or exact in their obedi* 
ence to it." 

Early in the session of May, '79, Mr. Jefferson pre* 
pared »ad obtained leave to bring in a bill, declaring 
who should be deemed citizens, asserting the natural 
right of expatriation, and prescribing the mode of ex- 
ercising it. This, when he withdrew froni the house 

82 ^lI^fi oti* ifept?fiR&oJc. 

on the Ist of June following, he left in the hands of 
George Mason, and it was passed on the 26th of that 

Of this gentleman Mr. Jefferson speaks in the high- 
est terms ; describing him as " a man of the first order 
of wisdom among those who acted on the theatre of 
the revolution, of expansive mind, profound judgement, 
cogent in argument, learned in the lore of our former 
constitution, and earnest for the republican change, 
on dQmocratic principles. His elecution was neither 
flowing nor smooth ; but his language was strong, his 
manner most impressive, and strengthened by a dash 
of biting cynicism, when provocation made it season- 

After reading the above, let it be decided whether 
Jefferson deserved the epithets bestowed upon him in 
days of party bitterness, as being a visionary enthusi- 
ast, or whether he is more worthy of being considered 
as an ardent friend of rational freedom, and an able 
and enlightened legislator. 

Mr. Jefferson's estimate of the powers of Mr. Mad- 
ison, and his opinion of his character, are also so just, 
so true, and so honorable to both, that we present them 
to the reader. ^^ Mr. Madison,'* says his friend and 
admirer, " came into the House in 1776, a new n^ember, 
and young; which circumstances, concurring with 
his extren^e modesty, prevented his venturing himself 
in debate befi^re his removal to the Council of State, 
in November, '77. From thence he went to Congress, 
then consisting of l^w n^embers. Trained in these 
successive schools, he acquired a habit of self-posses. 
sion, which placed at ready coipmand the rich resour- 


ces of his lomiaoas and discrinunating mind, and of 
ki» extenaiTe iaformation, and rendered him the first 
of every assembly afterwards of which he became a 
member. Never wandering from his subject into vain 
deelamation, bat pursuing it closely, in language pure^ 
classical, and c(^iotis> soothing always the feelings of 
his adversaries by civilities and softness of expressioui 
he rose to the eminent station which he held in the great 
National Convention of 1787 ; and in that of Virgin. 
ia, which followed, he sustained the new constitution 
in all its parts, bearing off the palm against the logic 
of George Mason, and the fervid declamation of Mr. 
Henry. With these consummate powers, was united 
a pure and spotless virtue, which no calumny has ever 
attempted to sully. Of the powers and polish of his 
pen, and of the wisdom of his administration in the 
highest office of the nation, I need say nothing. They 
have spoken, and will for ever speak for themselves." 
Certainly, such eulc^y, and from such a pen, is suffi« 
oient recompense for a life well spent. 

While on this subject, and as the opinion of Mr. Jef« 
ferson is of so great weight as to guide the faith of 
thousands, we subjoin his account of three others, not 
only prominent men in Congress, but the most zealous 
and active supporters of the rights of their country, 
both before and during the revolutionary struggle. — 
His sentiments are the result of personal and frequent 
observation, uid are delivered with a candor which 
could ^^bear a rival near the throne." 

''Dr. FBAirsiim had many political enemies, as 
every character must, vrhieb, with decision enough to' 
have opimons, has energy and talent to give them efr 

84 LIFE OF jfeFFEkSO;f(. 

feet oh the feelings of those of the adversary opinioti; 
These enmities were chiefly in Pennsylvania and Mas^ 
sachusetts. Ill the former, they were merely of thfe 
proprietary party ; in the latter they did not commence 
till the revolution, And theii sprung chiefly from per- 
sonal animosities, which spreading by little and little, 
became, at length, of some extent. As to the charge 
of subservience to France, besides the evidence of his 
friendly colleagues, two years of my own service with 
him at Paris, daily visits, and the most friendly and 
confidential communications, convince me it had not 
a shadow of foundation. He possessed the confidence 
of that government in the highest degree, insomuch, 
that it may truly be said, that they were more under 
his influence, than he under theirs. The fact is, that 
his temper was so amiable and conciliatory, his con- 
duct so rational, never urging impossibilities, or even 
things unreasonably inconvenient to them; in short, 
so moderate and attentive lo their difficulties as well 
as our own, that what his enemies call subserviency, 
I saw was only that reasonable disposition, which, sen- 
sible that advantages are not all to be on one side, 
yielding what is just and reasonable, is the moi'e cer- 
tain of obtaining liberality and justice. Mutual confi- 
dence produces, of course, mutual influence, and this 
was all which subsisted between Dr. Franklin and the 
government of France. 

" Of Samuel Adams, I can say that he was truly a 
great man; wise" in council, fertile in resources, im- 
moveable in his purposes, and had, I think, a greater 
share than any other member in advising and direct- 
ing our measures in the northern war. As a speaker, 


hfc could not be compared with his living colleague and 
namesake, whose deep conceptions, nervous style, and 
undaunted firmness, made him truly our bulwark in 
debate. But Mr. Samuel Adams, although not of 
fluent elocution, was so rigorously logical, so clear in 
his views, abundant in good sense, and master always 
of his subject, that he commanded the most profound 
attention whenever he rose in an assembly, by which 
the froth of declamation was heard with the most sove- 
reign contempt. 

" You know the opinion I formerly entertained of my 
friend, Mr. John Adams. I afterwards saw proofs 
which convicted him of a degree of vanity and of a 
blindness to it, of which no germe then appeared. He 
is vain, irritable, and a bad calculator of the force and 
probable effect of the motives which govern men. — 
This is all the ill which can possibly be said of him. 
He is as disinterested as the Being who made him : he 
is profound in his views, and accurate in his judgement, 
except where knowledge of the world is necessary to 
form a judgement. He is so amiable, that I pronounce 
you will love him if ever you become acquainted with 
him. He would be, as he was, a great man in Con- 

But it was not to the revision of the laws of his 
state, or other laborious public duties, that Mr. Jef- 
ferson entirely devoted himself. He at this time, in a 
noble manner, displayed the sternness of his justice, the 
purity of his heart, and the softness of his feelings, by 
deprecating all cruelty to a fallen foe, and by extend- 
ing a hand of charity to the foiled ravagers of his coun- 
try. His sympathies were excited by proposed wrong 



to the unfortunate, and he gave his indignant) power- 
ful> and successful pen to their assistance. 

Congress, it will be recollected, had resolved to re« 
tain in America the troops who had surrendered at Sar- 
atoga, until the terms of capitulation, which had been 
entered into by the British general, were duly ratified 
by and obtained from, his government. Until this was 
done and received, it was thought expedient to remove 
them into the interior of the country ; and the neigh* 
borhood of Charlottesville, in Virginia, was selected 
as the place of their residence. 

" There they arrived early in the year 1779. Th^ 
winter was uncommonly severe ; the barracks unfinish* 
ed for want of laborers; no sufScient stores of bread 
laid in; and the roads rendered impassible by the in* 
clemency of the weather and the number of wagons 
which had lately traversed them." Mr. Jefferson, aid. 
ed by Mr, Hawkins, the commissary-general, and the 
benevolent disposition of his fellow citizens, adopted 
every plan to alleviate the distresses of the troops, and 
to soflen, as much as possible, the hardships of captiv^. 
ity. Their efibrts were attended with success. The 
officers who were able to command money rented 
houses and small farms in the neighborhood, while the 
soldiers enlarged the barracks and improved their ac- 
commodations, so as in a short time to form a little 
community, flourishing and happy. These arrange«- 
ments had scarcely been completed, when in conse- 
quence of a power lodged in them by Congress, the 
Governor and Council of Virginia determined to re- 
move the prisoners to another state, or to another part 
of the same state. This intention was heard by th^ 


Captives with distress. Mr. Jefferson immediately 
addressed a letter to Grovemor Henry, in which he 
stated the impolicy, impropriety, and cruelty of such a 

But we will give this admirable letter to the reader. 
It speaks so well for the writer, is so illustrative of the 
more amiable traits of his character, is so correct in 
sentiment and glowing in language, and was finally 
so powerful in effect, that it would be an inexcusable 
omission in the memoirs of his life. Its incidents will 
repay perusal, while no tedium can afiect the patience* 


Albemarle, March 27, 1779. 

A report prevailing here, that in consequence of 
some powers from Congress, the Governor and Coun« 
cil have it in contemplation to remove the Convention 
troops, either wholly or in part, from their present sit- 
uation, I take the liberty of troubling yoii with scmie 
observations on that subject. The reputation and in- 
terest of our country, in general, may be affected by 
such a measure ; it would, therefore, hardly be deemed 
an indecent liberty in the most private citizen, to offet 
his thoughts to the consideration of the Executive.*—* 
The locality of my situation, particularly in the neigh- 
borhood of the present barracks, and the publick 
relation in which I stand to the people among whom 
they are situated, together with a confidence, which a 
personal knowledge of the members of the Executive 
gives me, that they will be glad of information from 
any quarter, on a subject interesting to the publio« 


induce me to hope that they will acquit me of impro* 
priety in the present representation. 

By an article in the Convention of Saratoga, it is 
stipulated, on the part of the United States, that the 
officers shall not be separated from their men. I sup- 
pose the term officers, includes general as well as 
regimental officers. As there are general officers who 
command all the troops, no part of them can be sepa- 
rated from these officers without a violation of the 
article : they cannot, of course, be separated from one 
another, unless the same general officer could be in 
different places at the same time. It is true, the article 
adds the words, " as far as circumstances will admit." 
This was a necessary qualification; because, in no 
place in America, I suppose, could there have been 
found quarters for both officers and men together; 
those for the officers to be according to their rank.--^ 
So far, then, as the circumstances of the place where 
they should be quartered, should render a separation 
necessary, in order to procure quarters for the officers, 
according to their rank, the article admits that separa- 
tion. And these are the circumstances which must 
have been under the contemplation of the parties; both 
of whom, and all the world beside, (who are ultimate 
judges in the ca^e,) would still understand that they 
were to be as near in the environs of the camp as con- 
venient quarters could be procured ; and not that the 
qualification of the article destroyed the article itself, 
and laid it wholly at our discretion. Congress, indeed, 
have admitted of this separation ; but are they so far 
lords of right and wrong as that our consciences may 
be quiet with their dispensation? Or is the cace 

tit^fi or j&rrcRsoN. 89 

4ineiidecl by saying they leave it optional ia the Gbv- 
emor aad Council to separate the troops or not? At 
the same time that it exculpates not them, it is draw, 
ing the Governor and Council into a participation in 
the breach of faith. If, indeed, it is only proposed, that 
a separatbn of the troops shall he referred to the c(HI. 
sent of their officers; that is a very different matter. 
Having carefully avoided conversation with them on 
public subjects, I cannot say, of my own knowledge^ 
how they* would relish such a proposition. I have 
heard from others, that they will choose to undergo any 
tbing together, rather than to be separated, and that 
they will remonstrate against it in the strongest terms. 
Hie Executive, therefore, if voluntary agents in this 
measure, must be drawn into a paper war with them, 
the more disagreeable, as it seems that faith and reason 
will be on the other side. As an American, I cannot 
help feeling a thorough mortification, that our Con- 
gress should have permitted an infraction of our pub- 
lic honor: as a citizen of Virginia, I cumot help 
hoping and confiding, that our supreme Executive, 
whose acts will be considered as the acts of the com« 
monwealth, estimate that honor too highly to make 
its infraction their own act. I may be permitted to 
hope, then, that if any removal takes place, it will be 
a goieral one: and as it is said to be left to the Gov- 
ernor and Council to determine on this, I am satis- 
fied that, suppressing every other consideration, and 
weiring the matter dispassionately, they will deter- 
mine upon this sole question : Is it for the benefit of 
those for whom they act, that the Convention troops 

should be removed from among them? Under die 

• 8* 


head of interest, these circumstances, viz. the expense 
of building barracks, said to have been £25,000, and of 
removing the troops backwards and forwards, amount* 
ing to I know not how much, are not to be pretermit* 
ted, merely because they are continental expenses : for 
we are a part of the continent; we must pay a shilling 
of every dollar wasted. But the sums of money 
which, by these troops or on their account, are brought 
into and. expended in this state, are a great and local 
advantage. This can require no proof. If, at the 
conclusion of the war, for instance, our share of the 
ooetinental debt should be twenty millions of dolia3n0, 
or say that we are called on to furnish an annual quo* 
ta of two millions four hundred thousand dollars^ to 
Congress, to be raised by tax, it is obvious that w« 
should raise these given sums with greater or less ease, 
in proportion to the greater or less quantity of money 
found in circulation among us. I expect that our cir« 
culating money is, by the presence of these troops, at 
the rate of $30,000 a week at the least. I have heard, 
indeed, that an objection arises to their being k^pt 
within this state, from the information of the commis- 
sary that they cannot be subsisted here. In aUendtng 
to the information of that officer, it should be borne in 
raind that the county of King William and its vicini- 
ties are one thing, the territory of Virginia another.—* 
If the troops could be fed upon long letters, I believe 
ibe-gentleroen at the head of that department in this 
country would be the best commissary upon earth* 
But till I see him determined to act, not to write — ^to 
sacrifice his domestic ease to the duties of his ap- 
pointmeat, and apply to the resources of this countryj 


Wheresoever they are to be bad, I must entertain a 
different opinion of him. I am mistaken if, for the 
animal subsistence of the troops hitherto, we are not 
furiocipally indebted to the genius and exertions of 
Hawkins, during the very short time he lived afler bis 
app(Hntment to that department by your board. His 
eye immediately pervaded the whole state ; it was re- 
duced at once to a regular machine, to a system, and 
the whole put into movement and animation by the Jiat 
of a comprehensive mind. If the commonwealth of 
Virginia cannot furnish these troops with bread, I 
would ask of the commissariat, which of the thirteen 
js now become the grain colony ? If we are in dan- 
ger of famine from the addition of four thousand 
fODOUths, what is become of that surplus of bread, the 
exportation of which used to feed the West Indies and 
Sastern states, and fill the colony with hard money ? 
When I urge the sufficiency of this state, however, to 
subsist these troops, I beg to be understood as having 
in contemplation the quantity of provisions necessary 
fi>r their real use, and not as calculating what is to be 
lost by the wanton waste, mismanagement and care- 
lessness of those employed about it. If magazines of 
beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, 
or for want of timely provision and sale ; if quantities 
of flour are exposed by the commissaries intrusted with 
the keeping it, to pillage and destruction ; and if, when 
laid up in the continental stores, it is still to be em- 
beazled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be 
insufficient for their supply, and their removal would 
be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to 
more able and honest commissaries. Perhaps, the 

92 Lip£ or jEPi^BAsoN. 

magnitude of this quesUmi, and its relation to thft 
whole state, may render it worth while to await the 
opinion of the National Council, which is now to meet 
within a few weeks. There is no danger of distress 
in the mean time, as the commissaries affirm they 
have a great sufficiency of provisions for some time to 
come. Should the measure of removing them into 
another state be adopted and carried into execution be- 
fore the meeting of the Assembly, no disapprobation 
of theirs will bring them back, because they will then be 
in the power of others, who will hardly give them up. 
Want of information as to what may be the precise 
measure proposed by the Governor and Council, oUi* 
ges me to shift my ground, and take up the subject in 
every possible form. Perhaps they have not thought 
to remove the troops out of this state altogether, but to 
some other part of it. Here, the objections arising 
from the expenses of removal, and of building new 
barracks, recur. As to animal food, it may be driven 
to one part of the country as easily as to another; that 
circumstance, therefore, may be thrown out of ques- 
tion. As to bread, I suppose they will require about 
forty or forty-five thousand bushels of grain a year. The 
place to which it is to be brought to them, is about the 
centre of the state. Besides that the country round 
about is fertile, all the grain made in the counties ad- 
jacent to any kind of navigation, may be brought by 
water to within twelve miles of the spot. For these 
twelve miles, wagons must be employed; I suppose 
half a dozen will be plenty. Perhaps this part of 
the expense might have been saved, had the barracks 
been built on the water; but it is not sufficient to justi*. 


fy their being abandoned now they are built. Wagon* 
age, indeed, seems to the commissariat an article not 
worth economizing. The most wanton and studied 
circuity of transportation has been practised ; to nien« 
lion ooly one act, they have bought quantities of flour 
for these troops in Cumberland, have ordered it to be 
wagoned down to Manchester, and wagoned thence up 
to the barracks. This fact happened to fall within my 
own knowledge. I doubt not there are many more 
such, in order either to produce their total removal, or 
to run up the expenses of the present situation, and 
satisfy Congress that the nearer they are brought to 
the commissary's own bed, the cheaper they will be 
subsisted. The grain made in the western counties 
may be brought partly in wagons as conveniently to 
this as to any other place ; perhaps more so, on account 
of its vicinity to one of the best passes through the 
Blue Ridge ; and partly by water, as it is near to 
James river, to the navigation of which, ten counties 
are adjacent above the falls. When I said that the 
grafo might be brought hither from all the counties of 
the state adjacent to navigation, I did not mean to say 
it would be proper to bring it from all. On the contra- 
ry, I think the commissary should be instructed, after 
the next harvest, not to send one bushel of grain to the 
barracks from below the falls of the river, or from the 
northern counties. The counties on tide water are 
accessible to the calls for our own army. Their supplies 
ought therefore to be husbanded for them. The coun- 
ties in the northwestern parts of the state are not only 
within reach for our own grand army, but peculiarly 
aeoessary for the support of Mackintosh's army ; or 

94 Life of iefferson* 

for the support of any other northwestern expedition, 
which the uncertain conduct of the Indians should 
render necessary ; insomuch that if the supplies of that 
quarter should he missapplied to any other purpose, it 
would destroy in embryo every exertion, either for 
particular or general safety there. The counties above 
tide water, in the middle, southern and western parts of 
the country, are not accessible to calls for either of those 
purposes, but at such an expense of transportation as 
the article would not bear. Here, then, is a great field) 
whose supplies of bread cannot be carried to our army, 
or rather, which will raise no supplies of bread, because 
there is no body to eat them. Was it not then wise in 
Congress to remove to that field four thousand idle 
mouths, who must otherwise have interfered with the 
pasture of our own troops ? And if they are removed 
to any other part of the country, will it not defeat this 
wise purpose ? The mills on the waters of James 
river, above the falls, open to canoe navigation, are 
very many. Some of them are of great note, as man- 
ufactories. The barracks are surrounded by mills^ 
There are five or six round about Charlottesville.— 
Any two or three of the whole might, in the course of 
the winter, manufacture fiour sufiicient for the year. 
To say the worst then of this situation, it is but twelve 
miles wrong. The safe ' custody of these troops is 
another circumstance worthy consideration. Equally 
removed from the access of an eastern or western en* 
emy, central to the whole state, so that, should they 
attempt an irruption in any direction, they must pass 
through a great extent of hostile country ; in a neigh- 
borhood thickly inhabited by a robust and hardy peo- 

LlFfi OF J£FF£RSON. 95 

pie, zealous in the American cause, acquainted with 
tbe use of arms, and the defiles and passes by which 
they must issue : it would seem that, in this point of 
Tiew, no place could have been better chosen. 

Xheir health is also of importance. I would not 
endeavor to show that their lives are valuable to us, 
because it would suppose a possiblity, that humanity 
iras kicked out of doors in America, and interest only 
attended to. The barracks occupy the top and brow 
of a very high hill ; (you have been untruly told they 
were in a bottom;) they are free from fog, have four 
springs whioh seem to be plentiful, one within twenty 
yards of the picket, two within fifty yards, and another 
within two hundred and fifty, and they propose to sink 
wells within the picket. Of four thousand people, it 
^ould be expected, according to the ordinary calcu- 
lations, that one should die every day ; yet in the space 
of near three months, there have been but four deaths 
aoumg them $ two infknts under three weeks old, and 
two others by apoplexy. The officers tell me, the 
troops were never before so healthy since they were 

But is an enemy so execrable, that, though in captiv« 
ity, his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and 
even crossed ? I think not. It is for the benefit of 
mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as 
possible. The practice, therefore, of modern nations, as 
treating captive enemies with politeness and generos. 
ity, is not only delightful in contemplation, but really 
interestmg to all the world, friends, foes, and neutrals. 
Liet us apply this : the officers, after considerable hard* 
ships, have all proaured quarters comfortable and sat* 


isfactory to them. In order to do tWs, they were oWf- 
ged in many instances, to hire houses for a year cer- 
tain, and at such exhorbitant rents, as were sufBcieM 
to tempt independent owners to go out of them, and 
shift as they could. These houses, in most cases, 
were much out of repair. They'have repaired them 
at a considerable expense. One of the general offliceM 
has taken a place for two years, advanced the rent for 
the whole time, and being obliged, moreover, to erect 
additional buildings for the accommodation of part of 
his family, for which there was not room in the housQ 
rented. Independent of the brick work, for the car- 
pentry of these additional buildings, I know he is to 
pay fifteen hundred dollars. The same gentleman, to 
my knowledge, has paid to one person, three thousand 
six hundred and seventy dollars, for different articles to 
fix himself commodiously. They have generally laid 
in their stocks of grain and other provisions, for it Is 
well known that ofiicers do not live ou their rations. 
They have purchased cows, sheep, &c., set in to farm- 
ing, prepared their gardens, and have a prospect of 
comfort and quiet before them. To turn to the sol- 
diers : the environs of the barracks are delightful, the 
ground cleared, laid off in hundreds of gardens, each 
enclosed in its separate paling ; these well prepared, 
and exhibiting a fine appearance. General Riedesel, 
alone laid out upwards of two hundred pounds in gar- 
den seeds, for the German troops only. Judge what 
an extent of ground these seeds would cover. There 
is little doubt that their own gardens will furnish them 
a great abundance of vegetables through the year. — 
Their poultry, pigeons, and other preparations of that 


kind, present to the miiid the idea af a oompany of 
htmersy rather than a camp of soldiers. In addition 
to the barracks built for them by the public, and now 
very comfortable, they have built great numbers for 
themselves, in such messes as fancied each other ; and 
the whole corps, both officers and men, seem now hap- 
py and satisfied with their situation. Having thus 
found the art of rendering captivity itself comfortable, 
und carried it into execution, at their own great ex- 
pense and labor, their spirit sustained by the prospect 
of gratifications rii^ng before their eyes, does not eve- 
ry sentiment of humanity revolt against the proposi- 
tion of stripping them of all this, and removing them 
into new situations, where, from the advanced season 
ctf the year, no preparations can be made for carrying 
themselves comfortably through the heats of summer; 
and when it is known that the necessary advances for 
\he conveniences already provided, have exhausted 
their funds and left them unable to make the like exer- 
tions anew ? Again ; review this matter as it may re- 
gard appearances. A body of troops, after staying a 
twelvemonth at Boston, are ordered to take a mareh of 
seven hundred miles to Virginia, where, it is said, they 
may be plentifully subsisted. As soon as they are 
there, they are ordered on some other march, because, 
in Virginia, it is said, tbey cannot be subsisted. Indif- 
ferent nations will charge this either to ignorance or 
to whim and caprice ; the parties interested, to cruelty. 
Tliey now view the proposition in that light, and it is 
•aid, there is a general and firm persuasion among 
diem, thut th^ were marched from Boston with no 

oAer putpose than to harass and destroy ttem with 


98 UF£ OF JElilf&RSON. 

eternal nuurobe^. Pei-seVerfenbe ia object, tiiougb ool 
by the modt direct way, is oilen more laudable tbaa 
perpetual changes, as often as the object shifts light* 
A character of steadiness in our councils is worth more 
than ihe subdisteilce of four thousand people. 

There could not hdv« been a more unlucky concur* 
rence of oirbumstiuaoes than when these troops first 
came. The barrAoks were unfinished for want of la* 
borers, the spell of weather the worst ever known 
within the memory of mad, no stores of bread laid 
in, the roads, by the weather and number of wagons, 
soon rendered impassible : not only the troops them* 
selves were greatly disappointed, but the people in the 
neighborhood were alarmed at the consequences 
which a total failure of provisions might produce. In 
this worst state of things, their situation was seen by 
many and disseminated through the bOuntry, so as to 
occasion a general dissatisfaction, which even seized 
the minds of reasonable men, who, if not infected with 
the contagon, must have foreseen that the prospect 
must brighten, and that great advantages to the people 
must necessarily arise. It has acc<jrdingly, so hap- 
pened. The planters, being more generally ifellefs than 
buyers, have felt the benefit of their presence in the 
most vital part about them, their puirses, and are now 
sfflisible of its source. I have too good an opinion of 
their love of order, to belieVe that a removal of these 
troops would produce any irregular proofs of their dis« 
approbation, but I am well assured it would be extreme* 
ly odious to them. 

To owiclade* The septtratkn of these troofne wooU 
be a breaeh of public faith ; therefore I suf^oee It im- 


possible. If they are removed to another state, it is 
the fanlt of the commissaries ; if they are removed to 
any other part of the state, it is the fault of the com- 
missaries ; and in both cases, the public interest and 
public security sufier, the comfortable and plentiful 
subsistence of our own army is lessened, the health of 
the troops neglected, their wishes crossed, and their 
comforts torn from them, the character of whim and 
caprice, or, what is worse, of cruelty, fixed on us as a 
nation, and, to crown the whole, our own people dis- 
gusted with such a proceeding. 

I have thus taken the liberty of representing to you 
the facts and the reasons which seem to militate against 
the separation or removal of these troops. I am sea* 
sible, however, that the same subject may appear to 
difilerent persons in very different lights. What I 
have urged ius reasons, may, to sounder minds, be ap* 
parent fallacies^ I hope they will appear, at least, so 
plausible, as to excuse the interposition of 
your Excellency's 
most obedient 

and most humble servant, 

Th: Jsffbrson. 

It needs no assurance from us to our readers that this 
appeal was entirely successful ; nor was it ever for- 
gotten by those unfortunate captives from whom it 
averted tyranny, and for whose security and comfort 
it was penned. They duly appreciated his kindness 
and generosity, and their attachment and gratitude 
were lasting ; and in his subsequent travels through 
Bovope, wheo ohaooe again threw him in their sooie 


ty, they loaded him with civility and kkidneas, and 
spoke to their countrymen in warm terms of the hos- 
pitality of Virginia. When about to leave Charlottes- 
ville, the principal officers wrote to him, to renew their 
thanks, and to bid him adieu ; the answer of Mr. Jef- 
ferson to one of them has been preserved. **The 
little attentions," he says, " you are pleased to mag- 
nify so much, never deserved a mention or a thought. 
Opposed as we happen to be in our sentiments of duty 
and honor, and anxious for contrary events, I shall, 
nevertheless, sincerely rejoice in every circumstance 
of happiness and safety which may attend you per- 

To another of them he thus wrote : 

** The very small amusements which it has been in 
my power to furnish, in order to lighten your heavy 
hours, by no means merited the acknowledgements you 
make. Their impression must be ascribed to your 
extreme sensibility, rather than to their own we^lit. 
When the course of events shall liave removed you to 
distant scenes of action, where laurels not moistened 
with the blood of my country, may be gathered, I 
shall urge my sincere prayers for your obtaining eve- 
ry honor and preferment which may gladden the 
heart of a soldier. On the other hand, should your 
fondness for philosophy resume its merited aseendeocyy 
ii it impossible to hope that this unexplored country 
may tempt your residence, by holding out materiala 
wherewith to build a fame, founded on the happiness^ 
and not on the calamities of human nature ? Be this 
as it may, a philosopher or a soldier, I wish you per« 
senally many f(^icitie8." 

Lire OF JEFF£RSON. 101 


On the first of June, 1779, Mr. Jefierson was ap* 
pointed Governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, 
and retired from the legislature. Being elected also 
one of the Visiters of William and Mary College, a 
self-electing hody, he ejected during his residence in 
Williamsburgh that year, a change in the organisatios 
of that institution, by abolishing the grammar school, 
and the two professorships of Divinity and Oriental 
Languages, and substituting a professorship of Law 
and Police ; one of Anatomy, Medicine, and Chymis- 
try ; and one of Modern Languages ; and the charter 
being confined to six professorships, the Visiters added 
the La^ of Nature and Nations and the Fine Arts to 
the duties of the Moral professor, and Natural History 
to those of the professor of Mathematics and Natural 

^< Being now," says he, "as it were identified with 
the commonwealth itself, to write my 6wn history, 
during -the two years of my administration, would be 
to write the public history of that portion of the re* 
vdiUtion within this state." We must, therefore, rely 
upon contemporary history, and his own letters, for a ' 
relation of those events in which he was more perscHCi* 
ally concerned, and which occurred during his «c|mii^ 
k^^m of the government. 


Mr. Jefferson was the second republican Qovemor 
of Virginia, he having been chosen to succeed the 
celebrated Patrick Henry, whose term of service had 
expired. The time of his accession was one at which 
its duties were no less trying than arduous and diffi- 
cult ; it was at that period of the war when the British 
government, exasperated by the long protraction of hos- 
tilities, and goaded by their continual defeats, increased 
the usual horrors of warfare, by the persecution of 
the wretched prisoners who fell into their hands.— 
The Governor of Virginia, among others, promptly 
expressed his determination to adopt, as the only re* 
source against a system of warfare so barbarous and 
unheard of, a retali&ti<m on the British prisoners ia 
his power. 

Among the persons most conspicuous in these infa^ 
mous transactions, was Henry Hamilton, Esq., who 
acted as Lieutenant Governor of the settlement at 
and about Detroit, and commandant of the British 
garrison there, under Sir Guy Carleton as Govern- 
or in chief. He had not only induced and instigated 
the Indians to their butcheries on the frontiers, but 
had treated all prisoners in his power with unprece- 
dented severity. This gentleman, on the fifth of De- 
cember, 1778, had possessed himself of post St. Vin^ 
oenne, with the intention of attacking Kaskaskia m 
Illinois, and which there was no doubt of his carrying* 
There he expected to be joined by two hundred Indians 
from Michilimackinack, and five hundred Ciierokees, 
Chickasaws, and other nations. With this body he 
was to penetrate up the Ohio to Fort Pitt> sweeping 
Kentucky on his way, having light brass caiukOQ fcr 


th6 purpose, and expecting to be joiaed on the march 
by numerous bodies of lodians. With this force, he 
made no doubt that he could force all West Augusta. 
<<CoL Clarke, a brave and able officer of Virginia, 
v^9LS then in Kaskaskia with a small body of men, and 
made every preparation for resisting the expected at- 
tack. However, there was no hope of his holding out, 
and his destruction seemed inevitable. In the gloom 
of this despair, a Spanish merchant, who had been at 
St. Vincenne, arrived, and gave the following intelli- 
gence: That Mr. Hamilton had weakened himself by 
sending his Indians against the frontiers, and to block 
up the Ohio; that he had not QK>re than eighty men 
ia garrison, three pieces of cannon, and some swivels 
mounted ; . and that he intended to attack Kaskaskia 
as floon as the winter opened, and made no doubt of 
clearing the western waters by the fall. On this in- 
formation, Colonel Clarke, with a promptitude that did 
him honor, and which his situation and circumstances 
justified, resolved upon becoming the assailant, and to 
attack him before he could collect his Indians again. 
The resolution was as desperate as his situation, but 
there was no other probability of securing the coun- 
try. He accordingly despatched a small galley which 
he had fitted up, mounting two four-pounders and four 
swivels, with a company of men and necessary stores 
on board, with orders to force her way, if possible, 
and station herself a few miles below the enemy, suf- 
fering nothing to pass her, and wait for further orders. 
In the mean time, he himself marched across the 
country with one hundred and thirty men, being all he 
could rais^ and leaving Kaskaskia garrisoned by the 


militia. He inarched on the 7th of February, and 
was sixteen days on the route ; while the inclemency 
of the season, high waters, &c., seemed to threaten 
the loss of the expedition. When within three leagues 
of the enemy, in a direct line, it took them five days 
to cross the drowned lands of the Wabash river, having 
to wade often upwards of two leagues to their breast in 
water. Had not the weather been warm, they must 
have perished. But on the evening of the 23d, they 
got on dry land, in sight of the enemy; and at seven 
o'clock made an attaek, as totally unforeseen by them 
as it must have been unexpected. The town immedi- 
ately surrendered with joy, and assisted in the siege. 
There was a continual fire on both sides for eighteen 
hours. The moon setting about one o'clock, Che Col« 
onel had an entrenchment thrown up with^in rifle shot 
of their strongest battery, and poured such incessant 
showers of well-directed balls into their ports, that 
they silenced two pieces of cannon in fifteen minutes, 
without getting a man hurt. 

'< Governor Hamilton and Colonel Clarke had, on 
the following day, several conferences, but did not 
agree until the evening, when the former agreed to 
surrender the garrison (seventy-nine in number) pris- 
oners of war, with considerable stores. Clarke had 
only one man wounded, " for," says the Colonel with 
no little naivettet " not being able to lose many, I made 
them secure themselves well." 

" On the reception of these prisoners, the Governor 
of Virginia in Council determined,* that Hamilton and 
two of his coadjutors should be ironed and confined la 
jthe dungeon of the public jail, at, in some measure, a 


retaliation for the treatment American prisoners had 
received and were daily receiving at the hands of the 

An enumeration of the offences of this Hamilton, as 
exhibited by the Council, will give some faint idea of 
*he manner in which the war was then carried on, and 
will be an ample justification of Mr. Jefferson for the 
apparent harshness of his proceedings. 


In Council, June 18th, 1779. 

*^ The board proceeded to the consideration of the 
letters of Colonel Clarke, and other papers relating to 
Henry Hamilton, Esq. who has acted for some years 
past as Lieutenant Grovernor of the settlement at and 
about Detroit, and commandant of the British garri- 
Sfon tlwre, under Sir Guy Carleton as Governor in 
cMef ; Philip Dejean, justice of the peace for Detroit, 
and William Lamothe, captain of volunteers, prisoners 
of war, taken in the county of Illinois. 

<< They find that Governor Hamilton has executed 
the task of inciting the Indians to perpetrate their ac* 
customed cruelties on th& citizens of the United States, 
vithtMit distinction of age^sex, or condition, with an. 
eagerness and avidity which evince, that the general 
nature of his charge harmonized with his particular 
disposttkyn. They should have been satisfied, from 
the other testimony adduced, that these enormities 
were committed by savages acting under his commis. 
sion ; but the number of proclamations which, at dif- 
ferent times, were left in houses, the inhabitants of 
which were killed or carried away by the Indians, one 
oi whick preclamationa is in possession of the boardj 


nnder the hand and seal of Governor Hamilton, put» 
this fact beyond a doubt. At the time of his captivity, 
it appears, he had sent considerable bodies of Indians 
against the frontier settlements of these states, and had 
actually appointed a great council of Indians, to meet 
him at Tennessee, to concert the operations of this 
present campaign. They find that his treatment of 
our citizens and soldiers, taken and carried within the 
limits of his command, has been cruel and inhuman ; 
that in the case of John Dodge, a citizen of these states, 
which has been particularly stated to this board, h» 
loaded him with irons, threw him into a dungeon, witlK 
out bedding, without straw, without fire, in the dead of 
winter, and severe climate of Detroit ; that in that 
state, he wasted him with incessant expectaUons of 
death ; that when the rigors of his situation had 
brought him so low that death seemed likely to with- 
draw him from their power, he was taken out and 
somewhat attended to, until a little mended, and befere 
he had recovered ability to walk, was again returned 
to his dungeon, in which a hole was cut seven inches 
square only for the admission -of air, and the same load 
of irons again put on him ; that appearing, a second 
time, in imminent danger of being lost to them, he was 
again taken from his dungeon, in which he had lain 
from January till June, with the intermission of a few 
weejcs only, before mentioned. That Governor Ham- 
ilton gave standing rewards for scalps, but offered none 
for prisoners, which induced the Indians, after making 
their captives carry their baggage into the neighbor* 
hood of the fort, there to put them to death, and carry 
in their scalps to the Governor, who weloomed tbelf 

htfE OF JEPPftASON. 107 

raittm and success by a ctischarge of cannon: Thai 
"when a prisoner brought alive, and destined to death 
by the Indians, the fire already kindled, and himself 
bound to the stake, was dexterously withdrawn, and 
secreted from them by the humanity of a fellow prls* 
oner, a large reward was offered for the recovery of 
the victim, which having tempted a servant to betray 
his concealment, the present prisoner Dejean, being 
sent with a party of soldiers, surrounded the house, 
took and threw into jail the utihappy victitn add his de- 
liverer, where the fbrnler soon expired, undei* the per- 
petual assurances of Dejean that he was to be again 
restored into the hands of. the savages; and the lattery 
when enlarged, was bitterly reprimanded by Grovernor 

<< It appears to them that the prisoner Dejeati wad; on 
all occasions, the willing and cordial instrument of 
Goveilaor Hamilton, acting both as judge and keeper 
of the jails, and instigating and urging him, by mali- 
cioud insinuations and untruths, to increase rather 
than to relax his severities, heightehlng the cruelty of 
his orders by his manner of executing them, offering 
at otie time a rewardHo one man to be hangman for 
another, threatening his life on refusal, and.taking from 
his prisoners thciir little property their opportunities 
enabled them tb aC(quire. 

'* It appears that the prisoner Lamothe was a captain 
6f ihb vblunteei' scalping parties of Indians and whites, 
who went, from time to time, under general orders to 
spare neither men, women, nor children. From this 
detail of cirQivpBtaoces, ■ w^ch arose in few cases 
ofilj, <l«Agjb^««icfaaOC8at]F to the kDOvl<iclg(»rof the 

108 ttPE OF JEFJ-EilSOrf. 

board, they think themselves authorized, by fair dedttc- 
tion> to presume what would be the horrid history of 
the sufferings of the many who have expired under 
their miseries, (which therefore will remain for ever 
untold,) or who have escaped from them, and are yet 
too remote and too much dispersed to bring together 
their well-founded accusations against the prisoners. 

" They have seen that the conduct of the British offi- 
cers, civil and military, has, in the whole course of this 
war, been savage, and unprecedented among civilized 
nations ; that our officers taken by them have been 
confined in crowded jails, loathsome dungeons, and 
prison-ships, loaded with irons, supplied often with no 
food, generally with too little for the sustenance of na- 
ture, and that little sometimes unsound and unwbole- 
some, whereby such numbers have perished, that cap. 
tivily and death have with them been almost synony- 
mous ; that they have been transported beyond seas^ 
where their fate is out of the reach of our inquiry, 
have been compelled to take up arms against their 
country, and by a refinement in cruelty, to become 
murderers "of their own brethren. 

" Their prisoners with us have, on the other hand» 
been treated with humanity and moderation; they 
have been fed on all occasions, with wholesome and 
plentiful food, suffered to go at large within extensive 
tracts of country, treated with liberal hospitality, per. 
mitted to live in the families of our citizens, to labor 
for themselves, to acquire and enjoy profits, and final- 
ly to participate of the principal benefits of aodety, 
privileged from all burdens. 
<«n^»^«^^^ thit contrast, which cannot be d«iied*i^ 

LiFfi OF JErPBRsoif. 109 

our enemies themselves in a single point, and which 
has now been kept up during four years of unremitting 
war, a term long enough to produce well founded de- 
spair that our moderation may ever lead them to the 
practice of humanity; called on byihat justice we owe 
to those who are fighting the battles of our country, to 
deal out, at length, miseries to their enemies, measure 
for measure, and to distress the feelings of mankind i>y 
exhibiting to them spectacles of severe retaliation, 
where we had long and vainly endeavored to intro* ' 
duce an emulation in kindness; hapi^ily posisessed, by 
the fortune of war, of some of those very individuals 
who, having distinguished themselves personally in 
this line of cruel conduct, are fit subjects to begin on 
jwith the work of retaliation ; this board has resolved 
to advise the Governor that the said Henry Hamil- 
toDy Philip Dejean, and William Lamothe, prisoners 
of war, be put itl ilrdns, confined in the dungeon of the 
public jail, debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper, 
and excluded all converse except with their keeper. 
And the Grovernor orders accordingly." 

These orders were carried into rigorous and well- 
deserved execution, and against which, as will appear 
from the following letter, General Phillips, the British 
CKtmmanding officer in Virginia, most earnestly remon- 
strated : 


WnUamsburgh, July 17, 1779* 

I some time ago enclosed to you a printed copy of 

■an order of Council, by whk^h Governor Hamilton 



was to be confined in irons, in close jail, which has oc- 
casioned a letter from General Phillips, of which the 
enclosed is a copy. The General seems to think that 
fk prisoner on capitulation cannot be put in close con- 
finement, though his capitulation should not have pro- 
'Vided against it. My idea was, that all persons taken 
in war, were to be deemed prisoners of war. That 
those who surrender on capitulation (or convention) are 
prisoners of war also, subject to the same treatment 
with those who surrender at discretion, except only so 
far as the terms of their capitulation or convention shall 
have guarded them. In the capitulation of Governor 
Hamilton, no stipulation is made as to the treatment 
of himself, or those taken with him. The Governor, 
indeed, when he signs, adds a flourish of reasons indu- 
cing him to capitulate, one of which is the generosity of 
his enemy. Generosity, on a large and comprehensive 
scale, seems to dictate the making a signal example of 
this gentleman ; but waiving that, these are only the pri- 
vate motives inducing him to surrender, and do not en- 
ter into the contract of Colonel Clarke. I have the high- 
est idea of those contracts which take place between na- 
jtlon and nation, at war, and would be the last on earth 
io do any thing in violation of them. I can find noth- 
ing in those books usually recurred to as testimonials 
of the laws and usages of nature and nations, whidi 
convicts the ^opinions I have abova expressed of error. 
Yet there may be such a u^age as General Phillips 
jieems to suppose^ ihough not taken notice of by these 
writerS' I^am obHfed to trouble your Excellency on 
this.oooatton, by asking of you information on this 
point. There is no other person, whose dscisijn will 


SO unauthoritatively decide this doubt in the publid 
mind, and none with which I am disposed so implicitly 
to comply. If you shall be of opinion tliat the bartf 
is^istenee of a capitulation, in the case of Governor 
Hamilton, privileges him from confinement, though 
there be no article to that effect iti the capitulation, jus- 
tice shall most assuredly be done him. The impor* 
tance of this point, in a public view, and my own 
anxiety under a charge of violation of national faith 
by the Executive of this Commonwealth, will, I hope,^ 
apologize for my adding this to the many troubles with 
which I know you to be burdened. 

I have the honor, <fec. 

Th: Jefferson. 

The three following letters, to the same exalted per- 
sonage, dismisses the fate of Governor Hamilton, and 
all connexion of Mr. Jefferson with him* 


Williamsburgh, Oct. 1, l77d, 


On receipt of your letter of August 6th, during my 
absence, the Council had the irons taken off the prison- 
ers of war. When your advice was asked, we meant' 
it should decide with us ; and upon my return to Wil- 
liamsburgb, the matter was taken up and the enclosed 
advice given. A parole was formed, of which the en- 
closed is a copy, and tendered to the prisoners. They 
objected to that part of it which restrained them from 
saying any thing to the prejudice of the United States, 
^nd ins}ste(} on ^f freedpni of speech.*' They were, in 


consequence, remanded to their confinement in the jail, 
which must be considered as a voluntary one, until they 
can determine with themselves to he inoffensive in 
word as well as deed. A flag sails hence to-morrow 
to New York, to negotiate the exchange of some pri- 
soners. By her I have written to General Phillips on 
this subject, and enclosed to him copies of the within ; 
intending it as an answer to a letter I received from 
him on the subject of (xovernor Hamilton. 

I have the honor, &c. 

Th: JiFFERSOir. 


WillianiBburgh, Oct. 9, 1779. 

Just as the letter accompanying this was going on, 
Colonel Matthews arrived on parole from New York 
by the way of head quarters, bringing your Excellen- 
cy's letter on this subject, with that of the British com- 
missary of prisoners. The subject is of great impor- 
tance, and I must, therefore, reserve myself to answer 
after further consideration. Were I to speak from pre- 
sent impressions, I should say it was happy for Grov- 
ernor Hamilton that a final determination of his fate 
was formed before this new information. As the ene- 
my have released Captain Willing from his irons, the 
Executive of this state will be induced perhaps not to 
alter their former opinion. But it is impossible they 
can be serious in attempting to bully us in this manner. 
We have too many of their subjects in our power, 
and too much iron to clothe them with, and, I will add, 
too much resolution to avail ourselves of botb^ to fear 


their pretended retaliation. However, I will do myself 
the honor of forwarding to your Excellency the ulti- 
niate result of Ceuncil on this suhject* 

In consequence of the information in the letter from 
the British commissary of prisoners, that no officers of 
the Virginia line should be exchanged till Governor 
Hamilton's affair should be settled, we have stopped 
our flag, which was just hoisting anchor with a load of 
privates for New York. I must, therefore, ask the 
favor of your Excellency to forward the enclosed by 
flag, when an opportunity offers, as I suppose General 
Phillips will be in New York before it reaches you. 

I have the honor, &c. 

Th: Jbffebsoic. 

to the same. 

In Council, Oct. 8, 1779V 

In mine of the second of the present month, writteiil 
in the instant of Colonel Matthews' delivery of your 
letter, I informed you what had been done on the sub- 
ject of Grovernor Hamilton and his companions previ- 
ous to that moment. I now enclose you an advice of 
Ck>uncil, in consequence of the letter you were pleased 
to enclose me, from the British commissary of prison- 
ers, with one from Lord Rawdon ;. also a copy of my 
letter to Colonel Matthews, enclosing, also, the papers 
therein named. The advice of Council to allow the 
enlargement of prisoners, on their giving a proper pa- 
role, has not been recalled, nor will it be, I suppose, un- 
less something on the part of the enemy should render 

it necessary. I rather expect, however, that they will 


114 hlWE or JEPP&RSON. 

see it their interest to discontinue this kind of conduct, 
1 am afraid I shall hereafter, perhaps, be obliged to 
give your Excellency some trouble in aiding me to ob- 
tain information of the future usage of our prisoners. 
I shall give immediate orders for having in readiness 
every engine which the enemy have contrived for the 
destruction of our unhappy citizens, captivated by 
them. The presentiment of these operations is shock- 
ing beyond expression. I pray Heaven to avert them : 
but nothing in this world will do it but a proper con- 
duct in the enemy. In every event, I shall resign 
myself to the hard necessity under which I shall act. 

I have the honor, &c. 

Th; Jefferson. 

These measures of retaliation resulted with the 
happiest effects, and the enemy soon became convinced 
that we had «*too many of their subjects in our power, 
end too much iron to clothe them with." Thus, when 
neither the dictates of humanity nor the usages of ci- 
vilized society could claim attention, distressing expe- 
rience forced itself into notice and obtained considera- 
tion. But the Governor was still vigilant, and stood 
prepared to adopt a^ain the same system, when the 
British government should resort to their former prac- 
tices. In a letter to the commander in chief, dated 
November 28th, 1779, he remarks: " Lamothe and 
Dejean have given their paroles, and are at Hanover 
Court House. Hamilton, Hay, and others, are still 
obstinate ; therefore, still in close confinement, though 
their irons have never been on since your second letter 
4)n the subject. I wrote full information of this matter 


to General Phillips also, from whom I had received 
letters on the subject. I cannot in reason belieye that 
the enemy, on receiving this information, either from 
yourself or General Phillips, will venture to impose 
any new cruelties on our officers in captivity with 
them. Yet their conduct hitherto, has been most suc- 
cessfully prognosticated by reversing the conclusions 
of right reason.' It is, therefore my duty, as well as 
it was my promise to the Virginia captives, to take 
measures for discovering any change which may be 
made In their situation. For this purpose, I must apply 
for your Excellency's interposition. I doubt. not but 
you have an established niode of knowing, at all times, 
through your commissary of prisoners, the precise 
state of those in the power of the enemy. I must, 
therefore, pray you to put into motion any such means 
you have, for obtaining knowledge of the situation of 
Virginia officers in captivity. If you should think 
proper, as I could wish, to take upon yourself to retali- 
ate any new sufferings which may be imposed on 
them, it will be more likely to have due weight, and 
to restore the unhappy on both sides, to that benevolent 
treatment for which all should wish." 

The intermediate situation of Virginia had, hither- 
to, in a great measure, saved her interior from the rava- 
ges of invasion. The storm of war had spent its force 
on the more northern states, and was now begiuEing to 
burst with all its horrors upon the south, while Vir- 
ginia was left to throw its aids in whatever quarter it 
was required. 

In tracing these military operations, especially so far 
as the subject of these memoirs is connected with them, 


we must derive much of our information from the lucid 
and happy detail contained in the " Biography of the 
Signers to the Declaration of Independence," a work 
to which we acknowledge previous obligations. This, 
with the correspondence of Mr. Jefferson himself, will 
be sufficient guides to every important event which 
occurred during his administration of the affairs of 
Virginia. More acceptable companions we could not 
present to the reader, and any thing we might offer, 
would be dull and uninteresting to the instruction and 
entertainment they afford. 

In the spring of 1780, says the biographical annal- 
ist, the ferocious Tarleton had made his appearance 
on the southern- borders of Virginia, marking his path 
with unusual barbarity. Immediately after him, fol- 
lowed the main army anTi Lord Cornwallis. It was 
then time for this devoted state to exert herself. Troops 
were rapidly raised and sent off to the south, lines of 
communication established, and every preparation 
made to meet the enemy. It is needless to remark, 
that all the former habits and pursuits of the Gover- 
nor, had been of a kind little likely to fit him for 
military command ; but aware of the importance <Jf 
ienergy and exertion, at such a crisis, he bent his mind 
to the new task which fortune had thrown upon him, 
with alacrity and ardor. " Our intelligence from the 
southward," writes Mr. Jefferson to General Wash, 
ington on the eleventh June, " is most lamentably de- 
fective. Though Charleston has now been in the 
hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their 
movements, which can be relied on. Rumors say 
•that they are penetrating norUiward, To remedy this 


defect, I shall immediately establish a line of expresses 
from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and 
send thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us in* 
formation of their movements. This intelligence will, 
I hope, be conveyed at the rate of one hundred and 
twenty miles in the twenty-four hours. They set out 
to their stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible 
that a like speedy line of communication could be 
formed, from hence to your Excellency's head quarters. 
Perfect and speedy information of what is passing in 
the south, might put it in your power, perhaps, to frame 
your measures by theirs. There is really nothing to 
oppK)se the progress of the enemy northward, but the 
cautious principle of the military art. * North Carolina 
is without arms. They do not abound with us. Those 
we have are freely imparted to them ; but such is the 
state of their resources, that they have not been able to 
move a single musket from this state to theirs. All 
the wagons we can collect here have been furnished 
to the. Baron De Kalb, and are assembled for the 
march of two thousand five hundred men under Gen- 
eral Stevens, of Culpepper, who will move on the 
nineteenth instant. I have written to Congress to has* 
ten supplies of arms and military stores for the south- 
ern states, and particularly to aid us with cartridge pa- 
per and boxes, the want of which articles, small as 
they are, renders our stores useless. The want of 
money cramps every effort. This will be supplied by 
the most unpalatable of all substitutes, force. Your 
Excellency will readily conceive, that after the loss of 
our army, our eyes are turned towards the other, and 
that we comfort oiirselves with the hope, that if any 

118 LIFE OF JEFF tin so^^ 

aids can be furnished by you, without defeating op- 
erations more beneficial to the Union, they will be 
furnished. At the same time, I am happy to find that 
the wishes of the people go no further, as far as I 
have*an opportunity of learning their sentiments. — 
Could arms be furnished, I think this state and North 
Carolina would embody from ten to fifteen thousand 
militia immediately, and more, if necessary. I hope 
ere long to be able to give you a more certain state- 
ment of the enemy^s as well as our own situation." 
On July 2d, in a letter to the same, he writes: "I have 
received from the committee of Congress, at head 
quarters, three letters calling for aids of men and pro. 
visions. I beg leaVe to refer you to my letter to them, 
of this date, on those subjects. I thought it necessary, 
however, to suggest to you the preparing an arrange- 
ment of ofllicers for the men ; for though they are to 
supply our battalions, yet, as our own line of oflficers, 
almost, are in captivity, I suppose some temporary pro- 
vision must be made. We cheerfully transfer to you 
every power which the Executive might exercise on 
this occasion, As it is possible you may cast your eye 
on the unemployed ofiicers now within the state, I 
write to General Muhlenburg to send you a return of 
them, I think the men will be rendezvoused within 
the present month. The bill, indeed, for raising them 
is not actually passed, but it is in its last stage, and no 
opposition to any essential parts of it. I will take care 
to notify you of its passage. I have, with great pain, 
perceived your situation ; and the more so, as, being 
situated between two fires, a division of sentiment has 
arisen both in Congress and here, as to which the re^ 

LirE OF J£rF£RSOX. 119 

sources of this country should be sent. The removal 
of General Clinton to the northward must, of course, 
have great influence on the determination of this que8« 
tion ; and I have no doubt but considerable aids may 
be drawn hence for your army, unless a larger one 
should be embodied in the south, than the force of the 
enemy there seems to call for." 

The legislature had become fully aware of their 
danger, and adopted the most vigorous measures for 
the increase and support of the southern army. They 
conferred on the Governor new and extraordinary 
powers; and that officer exerted himself in every mode 
which ingenuity could suggest, to ward off the ap- 
proaching danger. 

While, however, all eyes were turned to the south, 
and the anxiety of expectation rested there, a sudden 
attack in another quarter was the more disastrous, as 
it was totally unforeseen. 

Arnold, whose treachery seems to have increased the 
natural daring and recklessness of his temper, aware 
of the unprotected situation of Virginia on the sea- 
board, formed a plan for an attack on that quarter. — 
He set sail from New York, with sixteen hundred 
men, and, supported by a number of armed vessels, 
ascended James river, and landed about fifteen miles 
below Richmond. All the militia of the state that 
could be supplied with arms, had been already called 
out, and placed in the neighborhood of Williamsburgh, 
under the orders of General Nelson. This event 
seemed to leave the Governor almost without re. 
Mtttoe; he saw the enemy within a few miles of the 
eij^ital of the state, which was entirely undefended ; 

120 LIKE OF JEt^FlikSO^. 

he ooliected hastily about two hundred half-armed mi- 
litia, whom he placed under the command of Baron 
Steuben, for the purpose of protecting the removal of 
the records and military stores across James river; be 
superintended their movements in person, with the ut- 
most zeal, courage, and prudence ; and he was seen 
coolly issuing his orders until the enemy had actually 
entered the lower part of the town, itnd began to flank 
it with their light horse. "As the order for drawing 
militia here,*' writes the Governor to General Wash- 
ington, " had been given but two days, no opposi- 
tion was in readiness. Every effort was therefore ne- 
cessary to withdraw the arms and other military stores? 
records, &c. from this place. Every effort was accord- 
ingly exerted to convey them to the foundry, five miles, 
and to a laboratory, six miles above this place, till 
about sunset of that day, when: we learned that the 
enemy had come to an anchor at Westover that 
morning. We then knew that this, and not Peters - 
burgh, was their object, and began to carry across 
the river every thing remaining here, and to remove 
what had been transported to the foundry and labora- 
tory, to Westham, the nearest crossing, seven miles 
above this place, which operation was continued till 
they had approached very near. They marched from 
Westover at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 4lh, 
and entered Richmond at one o'clock in the afternoon 
of the 5th. A regiment of infantry and about thirty 
horse continued on, without halting, to the foundry. 
They burnt that, the boring mill> the. magazine, and 
two other houses, and proceeded to Westham ; but noth- 
ing being in their power there, they retired to Rich-. 

LIFE OF JfiFFERSOx'f. 121 

mond. The next morning they burnt some buildings 
of public and private property, with what stores re- 
mained in them, destroyed a great quantity of private 
stores, and about twelve o'clock retired towards West* 
over, where they encamped within the Neck the next 
day. The loss sustained is not yet accurately known. 
As far as I have been able to discover, it consisted, at 
this place, of about three hundred muskets, some 8oi« 
diers' clothing to a small amount, some quarter-mas« 
ter's stores, of which one hundred and twenty sides of 
leather was the principal article, part of the artificers' 
tools, and three wagons. Besides which, five brass 
four-pounders, which we had sunk in the river, were 
discovered to them, raised and carried off. At the 
foundry, we lost the greater part of the papers belong* 
ing to the Auditor's office, and of the books and pa. 
pers of the Council office. About five or six tons of 
powder, as we conjecture, was thrown into the canal, 
of which there will be a considerable saving by re- 
manufacturing it. The roof of the foundry was 
burned, but the stacks of chimneys and furnaces not 
at all injured. The boring mill was consumed.— 
Within less than forty-eight hours from the time of 
their landing, and nineteen from our knowing their 
destination, they had penetrated thirty«three miles, 
done the whole injury, and retired. Their numberSi 
from the best Intelligence I have had, are about fifteen 
hundred iofantry, and as to their cavalry, accounts vary 
from fifty to one hundred and twenty; and the* whole 
commanded by the parricide Arnold. Should they 
loiter a little longer, I still flatter myself they will not 
escape with total impunity. To what place they will 


point their next exertions we cannot even conjecture. 
The whole country on the tide waters and some dis- 
tance frdm them, is equally open to similar insults." 

Major General Steuben, assisted by Greneral Nel. 
ion, having by this time collected a considerable force, 
marched in pursuit of Arnold. But the movements of 
the latter were too rapid to be interrupted by the tardy 
advances of undisciplined militia. They were, how- 
ever able to prevent similar incursions, and by re- 
maining in the vicinity of Portsmouth, they confined 
the enemy to their intrenchments. 

Although Arnold had thus succeeded in plundering 
and ravaging the country, the Governor determined 
that, if possible, the traitor should not eventually es- 
cape. He had no doubt of his capture, if a plan were 
prudently formed, and boldly carried into execution. 
The scheme which suggested itself for this purpose is 
best explained by a letter from him to General Mub- 
lenburg, and dated on the dlst of January ^: 

" Sir— Acquainted as you are with the treasons of 
Arnold, I need say nothing for your information, or to 
give you a proper sentiment of them. You will read- 
ily suppose that it is above all things desirable to drag 
him from those under whose wing he is now sheltered. 
On his march to and from this place, I am certain it 
might have been done with facility, by men of enter- 
prise and firmness. I think it may still be done, though 
perhaps not quite so easily. Having peculiar o<nifi- 
dence in the men from the western side of the moun- 
tains, I meant, as soon as they should come down, to 
get the enterprise proposed to a chosen number of 
them, such wliosc courage and whose fidelity would be 


above all doUbt. Your perfect knowledge of those 
men personally, and my confidence in your discretion, 
induce me to ask you to pick from among them proper 
characters, in such numbers as you think best, to re- 
Veal to them our desire and engage them to undertake 
to seize and bring off this greatest of all traitors. 
Whether this may be best effected by their going in as 
friends, and awaiting their opportupity, or otherwise, 
is left to themselves. The smaller the number the 
better, so that they may be sufficient to manage him. 
Every necessary caution must be used on their part, to 
prevent a discovery of their design by the enemy. I 
will undertake, if they are successful in bringing him 
off alive, that they shall receive five thousand guineas 
reward among them ; and to men formed for such an 
enterprise, it must be a great incitement to know that 
their names will be recorded with glory in history, 
with those of Van Wart, Paulding, and Williams. 
The enclosed order from Baron Steuben will authorize 
you to call for and to dispose of any force you may 
think necessary to place in readiness for covering the 
enterprise, and securing the retreat of the party. Mr. 
Newton, the bearer of this, and to whom its contents 
are communicated in confidence, will provide men of 
trust to go as guides. These may be associated in the 
enterprise or not, as you please ; but let the point be 
•previously settled, that no difficulty may arise as to 
the parties entitled to participate in the reward* You 
know how necessary profound secrecy is in this busi- 
ness, ev.en if it be not undertaken." 

There was no difficulty in finding men bold enough 
and ready enough to undertake this, or any other 


hazard ; but the attempt was rendered uaaTailing by 
the timely prudence of Arnold, who avoided every ex* 
posure to such a danger. 

Frustrated in this plan, the Governor turned his at- 
tention to another and bolder scale, in which he was 
to be aided by General Washington, and the French 
fleet. The latter, then at Rhode Island, were to sail 
immediately for James River, to prevent* the escape of 
the enemy by sea, while a large body of troops should 
be collected on shore, for the purpose of blockading 
them, and ultimately compelliDg a surrender. On the 
•ighth of March, Mr. Jefferson thus writes to the com- 
mander in chief. " We have made on our part, every 
preparation which we are able to make. The militia 
proposed to operate will be upwards of four thousand 
from this state, and one thousand or twelve hundred 
from Carolina, said to be under Greneral Gregory. 
The enemy are at this time, in a great measure, block- 
aded by land, there being a force on the east side of 
Elizabeth river. They suffer for provisions, as they 
are afraid to venture far, lest the French squadron 
should be in the neighborhood and come upon them. 
Were it possible to block up the river, a little time 
would suffice to reduce them by want and desertions; 
and would be more sure in its event than any attempt 
by storm." The French fleet, however, encountered, 
on their arrival at the Chesapeake, a British squadron 
of equal, if not superior force, by which they were 
driven back : by these means the plan was defeated, 
and Arnold again escaped. 

But Virginia was not yet redeemed from disasters, 
and new difficulties were to be encountered by the taU 


ents and activity of her Governor. Arnold had 
scarcely left the coast, when Cornwallis entered the 
state on the southern frontier. ^* I make no doubt you 
Will have heard," writes Mr. Jefferson in a communi- 
cation of May 28, shortly after the invasion, to Gen- 
eral Washington, "before this shall have the honor 
of being presented to your Excellency, of the junction 
of Lord Cornwallis with the force at Petersburgh un- 
der Arnold, who had succeeded to the command on 
the death of Major General Phillips. I am now ad- 
vised that they have evacuated Petersburgh, joined at 
Westover a reinforcement of two thousand men juat 
arrived from New York, crossed James river, and on 
the 26th instant, were three miles advanced on their 
way towards Richmond ; at which place Major Gene- 
ral the Marquis Lafayette lay with three thousand men, 
regulars and militia ; these being the whole number 
we could arm until the arrival of the eleven hundred 
arms from Rhode Island, which are, about this time, 
at the place where our public stores are deposited. 
The whole force of the enemy within this state, from 
the best intelligence I have been able to get, is, I think, 
about seven thousand men, infantry and cavalry, inclu- 
ding, also, the small garrison left at Portsmouth. A 
number of privateers, which are constantly ravaging 
the shores of our rivers, prevent us from receiving any 
aid from the counties lying on navigable waters ; and 
powerftil operations meditated against our western 
ffontier, by a joint force of British and Indian sava- 
ges have, as your Excellency before knew, obliged us 
to imbody between two and three thousand men in that 

<)uar(er. Your Excellency will judge from this state 




we must derive much of our information from the lucid 
and happy detail contained in the " Biography of the 
Signers to the Declaration of Independence," a work 
to which we acknowledge previous obligations. This, 
with the correspondence of Mr, Jefferson himself, will 
be sufficient guides to every important event which 
occurred during his administration of the affairs of 
Virginia. More acceptable companions we could not 
present to the reader, and any thing we might offer, 
would be dull and uninteresting to the instruction and 
entertainment they afford. 

In the spring of 1780, says the biographical annal- 
ist, the ferocious Tarleton had made his appearance 
on the southern- borders of Virginia, marking his path 
with unusual barbarity. Immediately after him, fol- 
lowed the main army anTi Lord Cornwallis. It was 
then time for this devoted state to exert herself. Troops 
were rapidly raised and sent off* to the south, lines of 
communication established, and every preparation 
made to meet the enemy. It is needless to remark, 
that all the former habits and pursuits of the Gover- 
nor, had been of a kind little likely to fit him for 
military command ; but aware of the importance Of 
energy and exertion, at such a crisis, he bent his mind 
to the new task which fortune had thrown upon him, 
with alacrity and ardor. " Our intelligence from the 
southward," writes Mr. Jefferson to General Wash, 
ington on the eleventh June, "is most lamentably de- 
fective. Though Charleston has now been in the 
hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their 
movements, which can be relied on. Rumors say 
'that they are penetrating nor^ward. To remedy this 


defect, I shall immediately establish a line of expresses 
from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and 
send thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us in- 
fbrmation of their movements. This intelligence will, 
I hope, be conveyed at the rate of one hundred and 
twenty miles in the twenty- four hours. They set out 
to their stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible 
that a like speedy line of communication oould be 
formed, from hence to your Excellency's head quarters. 
Perfect and speedy information of what is passing in 
the south, might put it in your power, perhaps, to frame 
your measures by theirs* There is really nothing to 
oppose the progress of the enemy northward, but the 
cautious principle of the military art. ' North Carolina 
is without arms. They do not abound with us. Those 
we have ere freely imparted to them ; but such is the 
state of their resources, that they have not been able to 
move a single musket from this state to theirs. All 
the wagons we can collect here have been furnished 
to the. Baron De Kalb, and are assembled for the 
maroh of two thousand five hundred men under Gren- 
eral Stevens, of Culpepper, who will move on the 
nineteenth instant. I have written to Congress to has- 
ten supplies of arms and military stores for the south- 
ern states, and particularly to aid us with cartridge pa- 
per and boxes, the want of which articles, small as 
they are, renders our stores useless. The want of 
money cramps every efibrt. This will be supplied by 
the most unpalatable of all substitutes, force. Your 
Excellency will readily conceive, that after the loss of 
our army, our eyes are turned towards the other, and 
that we comfort ourselves with the hope, that if any 



wc mu8t derive much of our information from the lucid 
and happy detail contained in the " Biography of the 
Signers to the Declaration of Independence," a work 
to which we acknowledge previous obligations. This, 
with the correspondence of Mr. Jefferson himself, will 
be sufficient guides to every important event which 
occurred during his administration of the affairs of 
Virginia. More acceptable companions we could not 
present to the reader, and any thing we might offer, 
would be dull and uninteresting to the instruction and 
entertainment they afford. 

In the spring of 1780, says the biographical annal- 
ist, the ferocious Tarleton had made his appearance 
on the southern- borders of Virginia, marking his path 
with unusual barbarity. Immediately after him, fol- 
lowed the main army anil Lord Cornwallis. It was 
then time for this devoted state to exert herself. Troops 
were rapidly raised and sent off to the south, lines of 
communication established, and every preparation 
made to meet the enemy. It is needless to remark, 
that all the former habits and pursuits of the Gover- 
nor, had been of a kind little likely to fit him for 
military command ; but aware of the importance of 
energy and exertion, at such a crisis, he bent his mind 
to the new task which fortune had thrown upon him, 
with alacrity and ardor. " Our intelligence from the 
southward," writes Mr. Jefferson to General Wash, 
ington on the eleventh June, "is most lamentably de- 
fective. Though Charleston has now been in the 
hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their 
movements, which can be relied on. Rumors say 
'that they are penetrating northward. To remedy this 


defect, I shall immediately establish a line of expresses 
from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and 
send thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us in- 
ibrmation of their movements. This intelligence will, 
I hope, be conveyed at the rate of one hundred and 
twenty miles in the twenty-four hours. They set out 
to their stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible 
that a like speedy line of communication could be 
formed, from hence to your Excellency's head quarters. 
Perfect and speedy information of what is passing in 
the south, might put it in your power, perhaps, to frame 
your measures by theirs. There is really nothing to 
oppose the progress of the enemy northward, but the 
cautious principle of the military art. * North Carolina 
is without arms. They do not abound with us. Those 
we have are freely imparted to them ; but such is the 
state of their resources, that they have not been able to 
move a single musket from this state to theirs. All 
the wagons we can collect here have been furnished 
to the. Baron De Kalb, and are assembled for the 
maroh of two thousand five hundred men under Gen- 
eral Stevens, of Culpepper, who will move on the 
nineteenth instant. I have written to Congress to has- 
ten supplies of arms and military stores for the south- 
ern states, and particularly to aid us with cartridge pa- 
per and boxes, the want of which articles, small as 
they are, renders our stores useless. The want of 
money cramps every effort. This will be supplied by 
the most unpalatable of all substitutes, force. Your 
Excellency will readily conceive, that afler the loss of 
our army, our eyes are turned towards the other, and 
that we comfort ourselves with the hope, that if any 



wc must derive much of our information from the lacid 
and happy detail contained in the " Biography of the 
Signers to the Declaration of Independence," a work 
to which we acknowledge previous obligations. This, 
with the correspondence of Mr, Jefferson himself, will 
be sufficient guides to every important event which 
occurred during his administration of the affairs of 
Virginia. More acceptable companions we could not 
present to the reader, and any thing we might offer, 
would be dull and uninteresting to the instruction and 
entertainment they afford. 

In the spring of 1780, says the biographical annal- 
ist, the ferocious Tarleton had made his appearance 
on the southern- borders of Virginia, marking his path 
with unusual barbarity. Immediately after him, fol- 
lowed the main army and Lord Cornwallis. It was 
then time for this devoted state to exert herself. Troops 
were rapidly raised and sent off to the south, lines of 
communication established, and every preparation 
made to meet the enemy. It is needless to remark, 
that all the former habits and pursuits of the Gover- 
nor, had been of a kind little likely to fit him for 
military command ; but aware of the importance (5f 
energy and exertion, at such a crisis, he bent his mind 
to the new task which fortune had thrown upon him, 
with alacrity and ardor. " Our intelligence from the 
southward," writes Mr. Jefferson to General Wash, 
ington on the eleventh June, "is most lamentably de- 
fective. Though Charleston has now been in the 
hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their 
movements, which can be relied on. Rumors say 
-that they are penetrating northward. To remedy this 


defect^ I shall immediately establish a line of expresses 
from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and 
send thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us in- 
fbrmation of their movements. This intelligence will, 
I hope, be conveyed at the rate of one hundred and 
twenty miles in the twenty- four hours. They set out 
to their stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible 
that a like speedy line of communication could be 
formed, from hence to your Excellency's head quarters. 
Perfect and speedy information of what is passing in 
the south, might put it in your power, perhaps, to frame 
your measures by theirs. There is really nothing to 
oppose the progress of the enemy northward, but the 
cautious principle of the military art. ' North Carolina 
is without arms. They do not abound with us. Those 
we have ure freely imparted to them ; but such is the 
state of their resources, that they have not been able to 
move a single musket from this state to theirs. All 
the wagons we can collect here have been furnished 
to the. Baron De Kalb, and are assembled for the 
maroh of two thousand five hundred men under Gren- 
eral Stevens, of Culpepper, who will move on the 
nineteenth instant. I have written to Congress to has- 
ten supplies of arms and military stores for the south- 
ern states, and particularly to aid us with cartridge pa- 
per and boxes, the want of which articles, small as 
they are, renders our stores useless. The want of 
money cramps every effort. This will be supplied by 
the most unpalatable of all substitutes, force. Your 
Excellency will readily conceive, that after the loss of 
our army, our eyes are turned towards the other, and 
that we comfort ourselves with the hope, that if any 


have done right : but it was to consign them to inevi* 
table death from the smallpox and putrid fever, tfien 
raging in his camp. This I knew afterwards to be the 
fate of twenty-seven of them. I never had news of the 
remaining three, but presume they shared the same 
fete. When I say that Lord Cornwallis did all this, I 
do not mean that he carried about the torch with his 
own hands, but that it was all done under his own eye ; 
the situation of the house in which he was, command- 
ing a view of every part of the plantation, so that he 
must have seen every fire. I relate these things on my 
own knowledge, in a great degree, as I was on the 
ground soon afler he lefl it. He treated the rest of 
the neighborhood somewhat in the same style, but not 
with that spirit of total extermination with which he 
seemed to rage over my plantation. Whereever he 
went, the dwelling hou^s were plundered of every 
thing which could be carried off. Lord Gomwallis'a 
character in England would forbid the belief that he 
shared in the plunder ; but that his table was served 
with the plate thus pillaged from private houses, can 
be proved by many hundred eye-witnesses. From aa 
estimate I made at that time, on the best information I 
could collect, T suppose the state of Virginia lost under 
Lord Comwallis's hands, that year, about thirty thou- 
sand slaves; and that of these, about twenty-seven 
thousand died of the smallpox and camp fever, and the 
rest were partly sent to the West Indies, and exchanged 
for rum, sugar,' coffee, and fruit, and partly sent to 
New York, from whence they went at the peace, either 
to Nova Scotia or England. From this last place, I 
believe they have lately been sent Jo Africa. History 

Lirfc OP JEFFERSON. 133 

will never relate the horrors committed by the British 
army in the southern states of America. They raged 
in Virginia six months only, from the middle of April 
to the middle of October, 1781, when they were all 
taken prisoners ; and I give you a faithful specimen of 
their transactions for ten days of that time, and on 
one spot only. Ex pede Herculem, 1 suppose their 
whole devastations during those six months amounted 
to about three millions sterliug." 

In times of difficulty and danger, it is seldom that 
the actions of the wisest and the best can escape with* 
out censure. Where they are not the marks of ma- 
levolence, they are yet dwelt on with morbid distrust 
by the disccHitented and the timid; they are contrasted 
by every speculative reasoner with the fanciful schemes 
which his own imagination has suggested ; and if>4hey 
do not chance to be crowned with unexpected success, 
the failure is attributed to intrinsic weakness, rather 
than to unavoidable accident. In the preceding pages 
a rapid sketch has been recorded of the public acts of 
Mr. Je^rson during the singularly eventful period in 
which he was placed at the head of the government in 
Viiginia. The truth of those facts may be relied on. 
From them, a reader of the present day, far removed 
from the bustle and feelings of the times, may form a 
calm judgement of the principles and talents of the man, 
when placed in this station of unexpected difficulty. 
There is little danger in asserting, that such a judge- 
ment will be as favorable to the zeal and talents of the 
statesman, as it will be honorable to the feelings and 
patriotism of the man. It would, therefore, seem almost 

useless to record imputed errors and unfounded char- 



ges with regard to him, which have passed iotOH^blinoii 

by the lapse of years, were it not in some degree & 
duty, not to pass unnoticed, events which, in their own 
day at least, excited considerable attention. 

The meeting of the legislature at Staunton was at- 
tended by several members who had not been present 
at Richmond, at the period of Arnold's incursion. One 
of these, Mr. George Nicholas, actuated, it is said, by 
no unkind feelings, yet, it must be acknowledged, with 
a patriotism somewhat too ardent, accused the late Gov- 
emor of great remissness in his measures on that oc* 
casion, aad moved for an inquiry relative to them. To 
this Mr. Jefferson nor his friends had the least object 
tion, nor did they make the slightest opposition. The 
ensuing session of the legislature was the period fixed 
for the investigation, but before it arrived, Mr. Nicho* 
las, convinced that the charges were unfounded, in the 
most honorable and candid manner declined- the far- 
ther prosecution of the affair. In the mean time, that 
be might be placed on equal grounds for meeting the 
inquiry, one of the representatives of his county re* 
signed his seat, and Mr. Jefferson was unanimously 
elected in his place. When the house assembled, no 
one appeared to bring forjvard the investigation; he^ 
however, rose in his place, and recapitulating the char^ 
ges which had been made, stated in brief terms his own 
justification. His remarks were no sooner concluded, 
than the house passed unanimously the following 

^Resolved, That the sincere thanks of the General 
Assembly be given to our former Governor^ Thomas 
Jefferson, for his impartial, upright, and attentive ad. 

Life of J£f|:*£rso^. 136 

tninlstration whilst in office. The Assembly wish, ih. 
the strongest manner, to declare the high opinion thejr 
entertain of Mr^ Jefferson's ability, rectitude, and in^ 
tegrity, as chief magistrate of this commonwealth, lind 
mean, by thus publicly avdwing their opinioti, to ob- 
viate and to remove all unmerited censures." 

It is due to Mr. Nicholas to i^ate, that iti a publica- 
tion some time afterwards, he made an honorable ac- 
knowledgement of the erroneous views he had enter- 
tained on the subject. The same candor has. not 
marked all the opponents of Mr. Jefferson ; but we are 
not, however, now to learn, that in the violence of polit- 
ical asperity, circumstances long proved, and generally 
acknowledged to be incorrect, are brought forward with 
no inconsiderable effrontery, and the mild and virtuous 
must be content to wait until time has swept away the 
fabrications and assertions of faction, and confirmed 
that which is founded in honesty and truth. 

On the 15th June, 1781, Mr. Jefferson was appoint- 
ed, with Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and 
Mr. Laurens, a Minister Plenipotentiary for negotia- 
ting peace, then expected to be effected through the me- 
diation of the Empress of Russia ;^but such was the state 
of his family, that he could neither leave it nor expose 
it to the dangers of the sea, and was consequently obli- 
ged to decline. In the autumn of the next year, Con- 
gress having received assurances that a general peace 
would be concluded in the winter and spring, renewed 
his appointment on the 13th November of that year. 
Two months before the last appointment, he had lost 
the cherished companion of his life, in whose aflfec- 
tions, unabated on both sides, he had lived the last ten 


years in unchequered happiness. With the public in- 
terests, the state of his mind concurred in recommend, 
ing the change of scene proposed ; he accordingly ac 
cepted the appointment, and lefl Monticello on the 19th 
of December, 1782, for Philadelphia, where he arrived 
on the 27th. The minister of France, Luzerne, offer- 
ed him a passage in the Romulus frigate, and which 
was accepted ; but she was then lying a few miles be- 
low Baltimore, blocked up in the ice. Mr. Jefferson 
remained, therefore, a month' in Philadelphia, looking 
over the papers in the office of state, and possessing 
himself of the general situation of our foreign relations, 
and then went to Baltimore, to await the liberation of 
the frigate from the ice. Afler waiting there nearly 
a month, information was received, that a provisional 
treaty of peace had been signed by our Commission 
ers on the 8d of September, 1782, to become absolute 
on the conclusion of peace between France and Great 
Britain. Considering his proceeding to Europe as now 
of no utility to the public, he returned immediately to 
Philadelphia, to take the orders of Congress, and was 
excused by them from further proceeding* He there- 
fore returned home, and arrived there on the 15th of 
May, 1783. 

On the sixth of June, 1783, Mr. JejQTerson was again 
elected a delegate to Congress, the appointment to take 
place on the first of November ensuing, when that of 
the existing delegation would expire. He according- 
ly lefl home on the 16th of October, arrived at Tren- 
ton, where Congress was sitting, on the 8d November, 
and took his seat on the 4th, on which day Congress 
adjourned, to meet at Annapolis on tfoe 96t)»* 

Life of j£ffersoN. 137 

"Congress," says he, "had now become a very 
small body, and the members very remiss in their at- 
tendance on its duties, insomuch that a majority of the 
states, necessary by the Confederation to constitute a 
house, even for minor business, did not assemble until 
the 13th of December." 

In this body Mr. Jefierson, as was to be expected, 
took a prominent station, and became, at once, engaged 
in all the principal measures that occupied the public 
attention. Among other services rendered by him, was 
that of establishing a standard of value for the country, 
and the adoption of a money unit. " They," (Con- 
gress,) says Mr. Jefferson, "as early as January 7, 1782, 
liad turned their attention to the moneys current in the 
several states, and had directed the Financier, Robert 
Morris, to report to them a table of rates, at which the 
'foreign coins should be received at the treasury. That 
officer, or rather his assistant. Governor Morris, 
answered them on the 15th, in an able and elaborate 
statement of the denominations of money current In the 
several states, and of the comparative value of the 
foreign coins chiefly in circulation with lis. He went 
into {he consideration of the necessity of establishing 
a standard of value with us, and of tlie adoption of a 
money unit. He proposed for that unit, such a fraction 
of pure silver as would be a common measure of the 
penny of every state, without leaving a fraction. This 
icommon divisor lie found to be ^^J^ of a dollar, or |^^^ 
Y)f the crown sterling. The value of a dollar was, 
tlierefore, to be expressed by 1440 units, and of a crown 
by 1600; each unit containing a quarter of a grain of 

fine silver. Congress turning again their attentioii to 



this subject the following year, the Financier, by a 
letter of April 30, 1783, further explained and urged 
the unit he had proposed, but nothing mora was done 
on it until the ensuing year, when it was again taken 
up, and referred to a committee, of which I was a 
member. The general views of the Financier were 
sound, and the principle was ingenious on which he 
proposed to found his unit ; but it was too minute for 
ordinary use, too laborious for computation, either by 
the head or in figures. The price of a loaf of bread, 
one-twentieth of a dollar, would be 72 units. A pound 
of butter, one-eighth of a dollar, 288 units. A horse, 
or bullock, of 80 dollars' value, would require a nota- 
tion of six figures, to wit, 115,200; and the public 
debt, suppose of eighty millions, would require twelve 
figures, to wit, 115,200,000,000 units. Such a system 
of money- arithmetic would be entirely unmanageable 
for the common purposes of society. 1 proposed, there- 
fore, instead of this, to adopt the dollar as our unit of 
account and payment, and that its divisions and subdi- 
visions should be in the decimal ratio. I wrote some 
notes on the subject, which I submitted to the consider^ 
ation of the Financier. I received his answer, and ad- 
herence to his general system, only agreeing to take 
for his unit one hundred of those he first proposed, so 
that a dollar should be fourteen forty one-hundredths, 
and a crown 16 units. I replied to this, and printed 
my Notes and Reply on a flying sheet, which I put into 
the hands of the members of Congress for consideration, 
and the committee agreed to report on my principle^ 
This was adopted the ensuing year, and is the sys- 
*en? which now prevails.. The division into dimes, 


cents, and mills, is now so well understood, that it would 
be easy of introduction into the kindred branches of 
weights and measures. I use, when I travel, an Odo- 
meter of Clarke's invention, which divides the mile into 
cents, and I find every one comprehends a distance 

. readily, when stated to him in miles and cents ; so he 
would in feet and cents, pounds and cents, &c." 

I will again extract, from the memoirs of Mr. Jef'- 
ferson, what follows below, for the sake of introducing 
a practical anecdote from Dr. Franklin: "The re- 
missness of Congress, and their permanent session, be- 
gan to be a subject of uneasiness ; and even some of 
the legislatures had recommended to them intermis- 
sions, and periodical sessions. As the Confederation 
had made no provision for a visible head of the gov- 
ernment during vacations of Congress, and such a one 
was necessary to superintend the executive business, 
to receive and communicate with foreign ministers and 
nations, and to assemble Congress on sudden and ex- 
traordinary emergencies, I proposed, early in April, the 
appointment of a committee to be called the " Com- 
mittee of the States," to consist of a member from each 
state, who should remain in session during the recess 
of Congress ; that the functions of Congress should be 
divided into executive and legislative, the latter to be 
reserved, and the former, by a general resolution, to be 
4elegated to that committee. This proposition was 
afterwards agreed to ; a committee appointed, who af- 
terwards entered on duty on the subsequent adjourn- 
ment of Congress, quarrelled very soon, split into two 
parties, abandoned their post, and left the government 
jirithout any visible head, until the next meeting o^ 

140 LIFfi OP J^FF^RddN. 

Congress. We have since seeti the same thing take 
place in the Directory of France; and I believe it will 
for ever take place in any Exe^cutive consisting of dr 
pluralityr Our plan best, I believe, combines wisdoni 
and practicability, by providing a plurality of counsel- 
lors, but a single arbiter for ultimate decision. I wad 
iin France when we heard of this schism and sepai^alioii 
"of our committee, and speaking with Dr. Franklin of 
ihis singular disposition of men to quarrel, and dividd 
dnto parties, he gave his sentiments, as usual, by way 
of apologue. He mentioned the Eddystone lighthouse, 
in the British channel, as being built on a rock, in the 
mid-channel, totally inaccessible in winter, from the 
boisterous character of that sea, in that season ; that 
therefore, for the two keepers, and there are only two, 
employed to keep up the lights, all provisions for the 
winter were necessarily carried to them in autumn, as 
they could never be visited again till the return of the 
milder season ; that on the first practicable day in the 
spring, a boat puts off to them with fresh supplies. 
The boatmen met at the door one of the keepers, and 
accosted him with a * How goes it, friend V * Very 
well.' * How is your companion V < I do not know.' 
* Don't know ? — is he not here V * I can't tell.' * Have 
you not seen him to-day?* *No.' When did you 
.see him?' * Not since last fall.' *You have killed 
;i'u».' * Not I, indeed.' They were about to lay hold 
of him, as having certainly murdered his companion j 
but he desired them to go up stairs and examine for 
themselves. They went up, and there found the other 
keeper. They had quarrelled, it seems, soon after being 
UA there, bad divided into two parties, assigned the 


cares below to one, and those above to the other, and 
had never spoken to, or seen, one another sinee." 

The following advice is good, and even at the pre- 
sent day is not totally inapplicable; "Our body was 
little numerous, but very contentious. Day after day 
«ras wasted on the most unimportant questions. A 
Hftember, one of those afflicted with the morbid rage of 
debate, of an ardent mind, prompt imagination, and co« 
pious flow of words, who heard with impatience any 
logic which was not his own, sitting near me on some 
occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, asked me how 
I could sit in silence, hearing so much false reasoning 
which a word should refute ? I observed to him, that 
to refute indeed was easy, but to silence impossible ; 
that in measures brought forward by myself, I took the 
laboring oar, as was incumbent on me ; but that in 
general, I was willing to listen ; that if every sound 
argument or objection was used by some one or other 
of the numerous debaters, it was enough ; if not, I 
thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without 
going into a repetition of what had been already said 
by others: that this was a waste and abuse of the time 
and patience of the house, which couldnot be justified. 
And I believe, that if the members of deliberate bo- 
dies were to observe this course generally, they would 
do in a day, what takes them a week ; and it is really 
more questionable, than may at first be thought, wheth- 
er Bonaparte's dumb legislature, which said nothing, 
and did much, may not be preferable to one which talks 
much, and does nothing. I served with General 
Washington in the legislature of Virginia, before the 
revolution, and during it, with Dr. Franklin in Conr 


gress. I never beard either of fhem speftk ten ifnin- 
iites at a time, nor to any but the main poifit Which 
wa8 (o decide the qnestion. They laidtherr shoulders 
to the great points, knowing that the little ones wotrM 
follow of themselves. If the present Congress errs ill 
too much talking, how can it be otherwise, in a body to 
which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyersr, 
whose trade it is to question every thing, yield noth- 
ing, and talk by the hour ? That one hundred and 
fifty lawyers should do business together, ought not ta 
b© expected." 

Early in December, letters were received from the 
commissioners in France, accompanied with the de- 
finitive treaty between the United States and Great 
Britain, which had been signed at Parrs on the third 
pf September. They were immediately rtjferred to H 
Committee, of which Mr. Jefferson was chairman. — 
On the fourteenth of January, 1784, on the report of 
this committee, the treaty was unanimously ratified, 
thus putting an end to the eventful struggle between 
the two countries, and confirming the independence 
which had already been gained. 
■ About this period an opportunity was offered to Mr. 
Jefferson, of expressing again, as he had already so 
frequently done, his earnest desire to provide for the 
emancipation of the negroes, and the entire abolition 
of slavery in the United States. Being appointed 
chairman of a committee to which was assigned the 
^ask of forming a plan for the temporary government 
.of the Western Territory, he introduced into it the fol- 
lowing clause: "That after the year 1800 of the 
christian era, there shall be neither slavery, nor in vol* 

tiiFfi or jBFrieMON. 143 

untary servitude iti any of the said sUtes, otherwise 
thau in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall 
have been convicted to have been personally guilty." 
When the report of the committee was presented to 
Ck>ngre88) these words werO) however, struck out. 

On the 7th of May^ Oongress resolved that a Min. 
later Plenipotentiary should be appointed, in addition 
to Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin, for negotiating trea. 
ties of commerce with foreign nations, and Mr. Jeflfer. 
son was elected to that duty. He accordingly lefi An- 
napolis on the 11th, taking with him his eldest daugh- 
ter, then at Philadelphia, and proceeded to Boston in 
quest of a passage. While passing through thediSer- 
ent states, he informed himself of the condition of the 
corannerce of each, went on to New Hampshire with 
the same view, and returned to BostGS. Thence he 
sailed on the 5th of July in a merchant ship bound to 
Cowes; which, after a pleasant voyage of nineteen 
days, reached the place of her destination on the 26th, 
After being detained there a few days by the indispo<> 
sition of his daughter, he embarked on the dOth ibr 
Havre, arrived there on the 31st, left it on the third of 
August, and arrived at Paris on the 6th, He called 
immediately on Dr. Franklin, at Passy, communicated 
to him their charge, and wrote to Mr. Adams, then at 
the Hague, to join them at Paris. 
. " Before I had left America," states Mr. Jefferson in 
his memoirs, "that'is to say in the year 1781, I had 
received a letter from M. de Marbois, of the French 
legation in Philadelphia, informing me, he had been 
instructed by hb govemment to obtain such statistical 
accounts of the diff«rtot states of our UnioQ, as migfa^ 

144 LfPE oi^ sBFP&ns6fi» 

\sk useful fof their informatian ; aifd addre^tog to tM 
a nuihbeif of queries tef atiire to the state tA Yi^ginifti 
i had alvC'iij^s tifdc(e it a pradiice, irhehetei* all bp|>df' 
iunitjr dcctiri'ed of dbfttitiing any ibrdrifiatidti of our 
bountry, which niight be of u&e to t«e id atiy statioOi 
|)ubiic Of pHirate, td eotntnit it to writing. These 
inenioriknda #ef^ On loose papers, bundled up without 
drctef , Attd didScult of recurrence, when I had occasion 
ibr a particular one. I thought this a good occasion 
to imbody their substance, which I did in the order of 
Mr. Marbois' queries, so as to answer his wish and to 
arrange them for my own use. Some friends, to whom 
they were occasionally communicated, wished for co- 
pies ; but their volume rendering this too laborious by 
hand, I proposed to get a few printed for their gratifi. 
caticm. I was %!ked such a price, however, as exceeded 
the importance of the object. On my arrival at Paris, 
I found it could be done for a fourth of what I had 
been asked here. I therefore corrected and enlarged 
them, and had two hundred copies printed, under the 
title of * Notes on Virginia.* I gave a very few copies 
to some particular friencto in Europe, and sent the rest 
to my fHends in America. An European copy, by 
the death of the owner, got into the hands of a book- 
seller, who engaged its translation, and when ready 
for the press, communicated his intentions and manu- 
script to me, suggesting that I should correct it, with* 
out asking any other permission for the publication. I 
never had seen so wretched an attempt at translation. 
Interverted, abridged, mutilated, and often reversing 
the sense of the original, I-fbfund it a bloteh of errors 
from beginning to end. I enrmeted somiB of tlte most 


mateTia], and in that form it was prioted in French. 
A London bookseller, on seeing the translation, re^ 
quested liie to permit him to print the English originaK 
I thought it best to do so, to let the world see that it 
was not really so bad as the French translation had 
made it appe&r." Such was the origin and history of 
the celebrated " Notes on Virginia." 

This work co(pes recommended to us by its bland 
philosophy, the variety of its information, and thd 
charming simplicity of its style. In it, the fanciful 
and absurd theories of Bufibn receive a gentie but 
most convincing refutation ; and the greatest philoso^ 
pher of his day is prostrated by a citizen of a then 
almost unknown and despised country. And when 
demanded, Mr. Jefierson can rise with his subject, and 
touch the pinnacle of loftiness in thought and sublimity 
of conception. But^ as has been truly remarked, it is 


" in the interesting picture of Indian habits and man- 
ners; the records of their untutored eloquence; the 
vindication of their bravery, their generosity, and their 
virtue ; in the delineation of the character, the fidelity, 
the kindly feelings of th^ enslaved negro race, whose 
champion he ever was, alike in the times of colonial 
subjection, and of established freedom; in his investi- 
gations relative to religious and political liberty ; in 
his researches in science, philosophy, and antiquity— 
Uiat every reader will find much to instruct and amuse. 
He will not perhaps regret that he chose public life as 
the great theatre of his ambition, but he will acknow. 
leAge, that his fame would probably have been as great 
in th^ mor^ peao^fol pur^tiits of science." 


146 UP& OP mFfvuBOff. 

Logan, the Mingo chief, which seems to be no less 
gratifying to the nobility of intellect, than attractive 
as the theme of schoolboy declamation. Whether 
this speech, delivered to Lord Dun more, be really the 
speech of this implacable warrior, or whether it was 
coined for hjm by the poetic fancy of his messenger, 
it would be difficult to decide. It is certainly charac- 
terixed by the laconic and figurativQ,style of the In- 
dians« It would require, however, a keen vision to 
perceive in it that " tender sentiment " and '^ sublime 
morality,** which some of the historians of Virgina ear 
it possesses. Is there any thing either tender or sub* 
lime in the declaration of savage vengeanee, and tiie 
ibnfession of having glutted himself with the blood of 
his enemies? The end of this cornK)rant chieflain cor- 
responded with hid life. After ^ having killed many, 
and glutted his vengeance with blood," he went to De- 
troit, on bis return from which place he was nmrdered. 
After the return of peace had compelled Logun to few 
bear the use of the tomahawk ami scalping knife, he be- 
came addicted to the Indian's besetting sin, to that de* 
grading and debasing vice w^ich paralyzes the phy- 
sical powers of man, which bows his iatetleet to inn- 
buoility, and brings destruction on his temporal for* 
tunes and future prospects — he became a donfirmed 
and abandoned sot. The immoderate use of brandy 
had stupified his mental powers, and mingled with the 
demoniac ferocity of the savage, the delirious ravings 
of the drunkard. 

But to returji4iH>m this digression. Pull powers 
wer# given by Congrem to Mr. Jefieraon i^nd the other 
Otmooimigiamn appointed by thtm, to fbrm itllkuiees of 


amity and coynftierce with foreign states, end on the 
most liberal principles. Their efforts, however, do not 
appear to have been very successful, and indeed, after 
some reflection, and experience, it was thought better 
not to urge them too strongly, but to leave such regula- 
tions to flow voluntarily from the amicably dispositions 
and the evident interests of the several nations. This 
necessity is not perhaps so much to be regretted from 
any loss sustained in consequence of it to the United 
States, as from the circumstance that it suflTered to pass 
unimproved so fortunate an opportunity of introducing 
into the law of nations, those honorable, humane, and 
just stipulations with regard to privateering, blockades, 
vsonlraband, and freedom of fisheries, which, at the sug- 
gestion of Dr. Franklin, the commissioners had been 
instructed to introduce, if possible, into all the conven* 
tions they might form. 

Since the treaty of peace, the English govemmeut 
had been particularly distant and unaccommodating in 
its relations with the United States ; but at one period 
of Mr. Jeflferson's residence abroad, it was supposed 
that there were some symptoms of better disposition 
shown towards us. On this account he left Paris, and 
on his arrival at London, agreed with Mr. Adams on 
a very summary form of treaty, proposing "an ex- 
change of citizenship for our citizens, our ships, and 
our productions generally, except as to office." At the 
usual presentation, however, to the King and Queen, 
both Mr. Adams and himself were received in the 
most ungracious manner, and they at once discovered, 
that the ulcerations of mind in that quarter, left noth- 
ing to be expected on the particular subject of the visit. 



A few vague and inefiectual conferences followed, aftel- 
which he returned to Paris. He did not, however, 
oease to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings and 
conduct of the British nation, and his letters to the de- 
partment of foreign affairs contain many facts in re- 
gard to it, and many instances of the jealous and un- 
friendly feeling which sprung from and long survived 
the misfortunes of her colonial conflict. 

Of the personal character of the monarch, Mr. Jef- 
ferson's estimate is certainly not very high, and the 
account he gives of the conduct and dispositions of his 
son, the late King, as it agrees in the main with other 
accounts — as it was written solely for private and con" 
fidential information — and as it could be founded on 
no party or local views — may serve to confirm the 
similar relations current in those times. 

" As the character of the Prince of Wales is becom- 
ing interesting, I have endeavored to learn what it 
truly is. This is less difficult in his case, than in that 
of other persons of his rank, because he has taken no 
pains to hide himself from the world. The informa- 
tion 1 most rely on, is from a person here with whom 
I am intimate, who divides his time between Paris and 
London, an Englishman by birth, of truth, sagacity, 
and science. He is of a circle, when in London, which 
has good opportunities of knowing the Prince ; but he 
has also himself had special occasions of verifying 
their information by his own personal observation. — 
He happened when last in London, to be invited to a 
dinner of three persons. The Prince came by chance 
and made the fourth. He ate half a leg of mutton ; 
did not taste of small dishes, because small ; drank 

Life of jsffbrson. 149 

Champaign and Burgundy as small beer during din- 
ner, and Bordeaux after dinner, as the rest of the com- 
pany. Upon the whole, he ate as much as the other 
three, and drank about two bottles of wine, without 
seeming to feel it. My informant sat next him, and 
being till then unknown to the Prince, personally, 
(though not by character,) and lately from France, the 
Prince confined his conversation almost entirely to 
him. Observing to the Prince that he spoke French 
without the least foreign accent, the Prince told him, 
that, when very young, his father had put only French 
servants about him, and that it was to that circum- 
stance he owed his pronunciation. He led him from 
this to give an account of his education, the total of 
which was the learning a little Latin. He has not a 
single element of mathematics, of natural or moral 
philosophy, or of any other science on earth, nor has 
the society he has kept been such as to supply the void 
of education. It has been that of the lowest, the most 
illiterate and profligate persons of the kingdom, with- 
out choice of rank or mind, and with whom the sub- 
jects of conversation are only horses, or drinking 
matches, and in terms the most vulgar. The young 
nobility who begin by associating with him, soon 
leave him, disgusted with the insupportable profligacy 
of his society; and Mr. Fox, who has been supposed 
his favorite, and not over-nice in the choice of com- 
pany, would never keep his company habitually. In 
fact he never associated with a man of sense. He has 
not a single idea of justice, morality, religion, or of the 
rights of men, nor any anxiety for the opinion of the 

world. He carries that indifference for fame so far, 



that he would probably not be hurt were he to lose his 
throne, provided he could be assured of having al- 
ways meat, drink, horsey and women. In the article 
«f women, nevertheless, he is become more correct, 
since his connexion with Mrs. Fitzherbert, who is an 
honest and worthy woman : he is even less crapulous 
than he was. He had a fine person, but it is becoming 
more coarse. He possesses good native common 
sense; is affable, polite, and very good humored. 
Saying to my informant, on another occasion, 'your 
friend, such a one, dined with me yesterday, and I 
made him damned drunk;' he replied, * I am sorry for 
It ; I had heard that your royal highness had left off 
drinking :' the Prince laughed, tapped him on the 
shoulder very good naturedly, without saying a word, 
or ever after showing any displeasure. The Duke of 
York, who was for some time cried up as the prodigy 
of the family, is as profligate, and of less understand- 
ing. To these particular traits, from a man of sense 
and truth, it would be superfluous to add the general 
terms of praise or blame in which he is spoken of by 
other persons, in whose impartiality and penetration I 
have less confidence. A sample is better than a de- 
scription. For the peace of Europe, it is best that the 
King should give such gleamings of recovery, as would 
prevent the regent or his ministry from thinking them* 
selves firm, and yet, that he should not recover." 

The commissioners succeeded in their negotiations 
only with the governments of Morocco and Prussia* 
The treaty with the latter power is so. remarkable for 
some of the provisions it contains, that it stands solitary 
in diplomacy and national law. Blockades arising 


firoiii all causes, and of every description, were abolish- 
ed by it ; the flag, in every case covered the property, 
and contrabands were exempted from confiscation, 
though they might be employed for the use of the cap- 
tor, on payment of their full value. This, it is said, is 
the only convention ever made by America in which 
the last stipulation is introduced, nor is it known to ex- 
ist in any other modern treaty. 

On the tenth of March, 1785, Mr. Jefferson was 
unanimously appointed by Congress to succeed Dr. 
Franklin as minister plenipotentiary at the court of 
Versailles ; and on the expiration of his commission 
in October, 1787, he was again elected to the same 
honorable situation. He remained in France until 
October, 1789. 

While in France, Mr. Jefferson was engaged in 
many diplomatic negotiations of considerable impor- 
tance to this country, though not of sufficient interest 
to arrest the attention of the general reader. " The 
great questions which had so long occupied the pub- 
lic mind, were fitted to arrest the attention of the 
most thoughtless, affecting as they did the policy of 
nations and the fate of empires ; but the details which 
arise out of the interpretation of treaties, or the meas- 
ures which are necessary to increase their effect, and 
to remedy their deficiencies, are interesting only to 
him who studies the minute points of political history. 
These only were the objects which could claim the 
attention of the minister to France, at this period ; they 
did not call forth any prominent display of his great 
and various talents, but they required no ordinary adi- 
dress, involved as they were by the skilful intrigues of 


such ministers as Vergennes and Calonne, and op- 
posed, for the most part, by all the men of influence who 
thought that their interests might be compromised or 
endangered. Among the principal benefits then ob- 
tained, and continued to the United States until the pe- 
riod of the French revolution, were the abolition of 
several monopolies, and the free admission into France 
of tobacco, rice, whale oil, salted fish, and flour ; and 
of thfe two latter articles into the French West India 

During his residence in Europe, Mr. Jeflferson also 
visited Holland, and his Memoir embraces a brief but 
clear account of the fatal revolution, by which the 
Prince of Orange made himself sovereign of that re- 
public, so long and honorably independent. He also 
crossed the Alps, and travelled through Lombardy, 
though he did not extend his journey to the southern 
part of the peninsula. In returning to Paris, he visited 
all the principal seaports of the southern and western 
coasts of France, and made many and interesting ob- 
servations with regard to the culture of the vine, olive, 
and rice, which were carefully communicated to his 
friends across the Atlantic ; and he had reason to be- 
lieve, afterwards, that they had not failed to produce 
benefits, which, in time, will be of wide-extended utility. 

When Mr. Jefl^erson reached Paris, he found that 
city in high fermentation from the early events of the 
revolution ; and during the remainder of his stay in 
Europe, his attention was well and fully occupied in 
observing, as an eye witness, the progress of the extra- 
ordinary occurrences which from that time took place 
in rapid succession. 


Simply as the representative of a foreign people, he 
might be expected to do this ; but his situation as the 
minister of a nation which was supposed to have given 
the example, and by many, even in this very example, 
to have lain a train for the subsequent changesj not 
only caused him to be more curious and anxious him- 
self, but made him an object of interest and attention to 
the actors in these new scenes. He was, from circum- 
stances, much acquainted with the leading patriots of 
the National Assembly ; and as he came from a country 
which had passed successfully through a similar refor* 
mation, they were naturally disposed to seek his advice 
and place confidence in his opinions. It would have 
heen affectation to deny that he looked with pleasure 
on a successful and beneficial change of the French 
government, not merely from the advantages it would 
bring to an oppressed nation, but as ensuring a general 
improvement in the condition of the people of Europe, 
ground to the dust as they were by the tyranny of their 
rulers. But beyond these wishes he did not deem it 
just or proper to go ; and on receiving, upon one occa- 
sion, an official invitation of the Archbishop of Bor- 
deaux to attend and assist at the deliberations of an 
important committee, he excused himself immediately, 
fer the obvious reason, that his duties, as a public 
functionary, forbade him to interfere in the internal 
transactions of the country. He did not, however, 
consider himself restrained from urging upon his friends 
of the patriotic party, and especially upon his intimate 
and influential companion, Lafayette, the propriety, on 
repeated occasions, of- immediate and seasonable com- 
promise—of •eoitring what was offiured by the govern- 

154 LtF£ OP JEl^l^BHSON. 

ment-— and thus, by degrees, gaming peaceably, what 
might be lost by grasping too much at once, or be won, 
as proved to be the case, if as much ever was afterwards 
won, at sacrifices dreadful beyotid calculation. The 
following anecdote is a striking instance taken in Mr. 
Jefferson's opinions) to which we have alluded. 

" I received one morning," he says, " a note from the 
Marquis de Lafayette, informing me, that he should 
bring a party of six or eight friends, to ask a dinner of 
me the next day. I assured them of their welcome. 
When they arrived, they were Lafayette himself, Du- 
port, Barnave, Alexander Lameth, Blacon, Mounier, 
Maubourg, and Dagout. These were leading patriots, 
of honest but differing opinions, sensible of the neces- 
sity of effecting a coalition by mutual sacrifices, know* 
ing each other, and not afraid, therefore, to unbosom 
themselves mutually. This last was a material princi- 
ple in the selection. With this view, the Marquis had 
invited the conference, and had fixed the time and place 
inadvertently, as to the embarrassment under which it 
might place one. The cloth being removed, and wine 
set on the table, after tho American manner, the Mar- 
quis introduced the objects of the conference, by sum- 
marily reminding them of the state of things in the 
Assembly, the course which the principles of the con- 
stitution were taking, and the inevitable result, unless 
checked by more concord among the patriots them- 
selves. He observed, that although he also had his 
opinion, he was ready to sacrifice it to that of his brethren 
6f the same cause ; but that a common opinion must now 
be formed, or the aristocracy would carry every thing, 
And that, whatever they should now agree on, he, at 


the head of the national force, would maintain. The 
discussions began at the hour of four, and were contin- 
ued till ten o'clock in the evening ; during which time) 
I was a silent witness to a coolness and candor of ar* 
gument, unusual in the conflicts of political opinions ; 
to a logical reasoning, and chaste eloquence, disfigur- 
ed by no gaudy tinsel of rhetoric or declamation, and 
truly worthy of being placed in parallel with the finest 
dialogues of antiquity as handed to us by Xenophon, 
by Plato, and Cicero. But duties of exculpation were 
now incumbent on me. I waited on Count Montmo* 
rin the next morning, and explained to him, with truth 
and candor, how it had happened that my house had 
been made the scene of conferences of such a cbarac* 
ter. He told rac, he already knew every thing which 
had passed : that so far from taking umbrage at the use 
made of my house on that occasion, he earnestly wished 
1 would habitually assist at such conferences, being sure 
I should be useful in moderating the warmer spirits, 
and promoting a wholesome and practicable reforma- 
tion only. I told him, I knew too well the duties I 
owed to the King, the nation, and to my own country, 
to take any part in councils concerning their internal 
government, and that I should persevere^ with care, in 
the character of a neutral and passive spectator, with 
wishes only, and very sincere ones, that those meas- 
ures might prevail which would be for the greatest good 
of the nation. I have no doubt, indeed, that this con- 
ference was previously known and approved by this 
booast minister, who was in confidence and communi- 
Mtion with the patriots, and wished for a reasonable 
fefbrm of the oonstHutioQ. 

1^ L!F£ OF iEFF^RSON. 

On Mr. Jefferson's first arrival in Franoe, (says a 
discerning writer,) he had not failed to perceive, in the 
situation of the government, and the conduct of the 
thinking part of the community^ strong indications of 
the necessity of a change, and a desire to arouse the 
nation from the sleep of despotism into which it was 
sunk. Through the medium of the press ; itk conver- 
sation and the intercourse of fashionable life ; by the 
power and singular influence of men of letters then 
prevailing; these sentiments were disseminated with 
new and unheard of freedom. In all societies, male 
and female, politics had become the universal theme ; 
the witty, the rich, the noble, and the gay, indulged in 
them, perhaps, as much from fashion as reflection ; the 
young women joined the patriotic party as the mode ; 
the young men naturally followed in their train. The 
excessive dissipation of the Queen and the court, the 
corrupt and exclusive power of a small portion of the 
nobility who controlled it, the abuses of the pension 
list, the incredible confusion of the finances, the ex- 
hausted treasury amid a load of taxes, had so alarmed 
and paralysed the miiiistersj that they had no resource, 
but themselves to make the first step in the revolution, 
by calling in at once the assistance of a popular asseni* 
bly. From this period the tide swelled on irresistibly, 
bringing by degrees one improvement &f^er another, 
and washing away successfully the long established 
mounds, which ages of submission on one hand, and 
tyranny on the other, had erected against liberty and 
right ; but at last, unfortunately, overwhelming, for n 
ttme, the landmarks which justice And iQUDft k9i 
formed, i|s the necessary protmnkm ttf kwm% wi «- 


cM tostltttttona. Nothing, Indeed, is more extraordi • 
rwry in the history of the French revolution, than the 
rarpid wad total subversion which was effected in the 
iDstitutione of the country. In suoh events, it happen^ 
fbr the most part, that there is rather a removal of indi- 
viduals, a modificatbn of existing systems, a return to 
previous rights claimed or ascertained, which have 
been infringed ; hut here it was a violent exchange 
ffom one extreme to the other — ^the total destruction tja 
theory and in practice^ of the existing state of things — 
the building np of a new form of government from the 
very foundations — ^tbe establishment of the wildest re» 
publicanism on the ruins of the strictest despotism. — 
Perhaps this arose from the fact, (continues the same 
writer,) that there existed, in truth, but two classA of 
society in regard, at least, to political institutions ; the 
one very small in number, and in actual power, who 
were the oppressors ; the other embracing the strength, 
sinews, and resources of the nation, vast in numbers, 
but utterly trampled. There was, indeed, no intenne* 
diate body — no true aristocracy; that which existed, 
was merely such in name, and by its titles ; but it pos. 
sessed no real influence or control. This oircum* 
stance placed at the commencement of the struggle, 
the right to frame a new government, not in the hands 
of those who would merely have changed the form of 
oppresadon, but of the entire mass of the people them> 
selviss^ who had never been accustomed, in fact, to the 
existmice of any large, intermediate, and powerful plfMSIt 
between them and the legal power ; and who, conae* 
quently, in subverting or modifying that, looked onlyt 

9f r Oftfrespondipg wgttiomttidan and seeoritjref tfadf 



own rights. In this respect, the revolution of Prance 
is strongly contrasted with that of England, wbic^ 
was really a revolution of the nobility and landed ar- 
istocracy alone, bringing with it no great improvement 
in the popular institutions or privileges, and certainly 
leaving untouched, an immense mass of antiquated ab- 
surdity in laws and institutions, which a convulsion of 
more popular character could not have failed to demoU 
ish, but which now seems to be regarded either as a 
vital or desirable part of the constitution, or as so 
closely interwoven with it by time, that the abolition 
might endanger the destruction of what it is deemed 
best to preserve at all hazards. 

The residence of Mr. Jefferson in France did not 
exteKd to that fatal period of the French revolution, 
when its atrocities drew down upon it the execrations 
even of those who rejoiced at the rising of the day«star 
of liberty ; and the copious details which his letters 
embrace, render them, therefore, never-failing sources 
of interest and pleasure. It will not be uninteresting 
ta extract from these the account he has given of several 
of the well known historical personages of the period. 
They have at least the merit of having been sketched 
at the time, under circumstances of observation pecu- 
liarly favorable. > 

'' The Marquis de Lafayette" he writes, <' is a moat 
valuable auxiliary to me. His zeal is unbounded, and 
his weight with those in power, great. His education 
having been merely military, commerce was an an* 
known field to him. But his good sense enabling him 
to comprehend perfectly whatever is explained to him 
his agency has bean. very effieacbust He has a great 


deal of sound genius, is well remarked by the King, 
and is rising in popularity. He has nothing against 
him but the suspicion of republican principles. I think 
he will one day be of the ministry. The Cavni de 
Vergermes is HI, The possibility of his recovery, 
renders it dangerous for us to express a doubt of it ; 
but he is in danger. He is a great minister in Eum- 
pean a6[airs, but has very imperfect ideas of our insti- 
tutions, and no confidence in them. His devotion to 
the principles of pure despotism, renders him unafiec- 
tionate to our governments. But his fear of England 
makes him value us as a make- weight. He is cool, 
reserved in political conversations, but free and famil. 
iar on other subjects, and a very attentive, agreeable 
person to do business with. It is impossible to have 
a clearer or better organized head ; but age has chilled 
his heart.'' <' The Count de Vergennes," he remarks, 
in another place, << had the reputation, with the diplo* 
matic corps, of being wary and slippery in his diplo* 
matic intercourse ; and he might be with those whom 
he knew to be slippery and double-faced themselves. 
As he saw that I had no indirect views, practised no 
subtleties, meddled in no intrigues, pursued no con- 
cealed object, I found him as frank, as honorable, as 
easy of access to reason, as any man with whom I had 
ever done business ; and I must say the same of his 
successor, Montmorin, one of the most honest and 
worthy of human beings." 

" It is a tremendous cloud, indeed, which hovers 
over this nation, and he at the helm {Neeker) has 
neither the courage nor skill necessary to weather it* 
Eloquence in a high degree, knowled^fb in miUters of 

160 LlFfi OF J£PF£RSON. 

account and order, are distinguishing traits in his 
character. Ambition is his first passion, virtue his 
second. He has not discovered that sublime truth, 
that a bold, unequivocal virtue is the best handmaid 
even to ambition, and would carry him farther, in the 
end, than the temporising, wavering policy he pursues. 
His judgement is not of the first order, scarcely even 
of the second ; his resolution frail ; and upon the whole, 
it is rare to meet an instance of a person so much 
below the reputation he has obtained." 

" The King (Louis XVL) loves business, economy, 
order and justice, and wishes sincerely the good of 
his people ; but he is irascible, rude, very limited in 
his understanding, and religious, bordering on bigotry. 
He has no mistress, loves his Queen, and is too much 
governed by her." 

Mr. Jefferson's opinion of Maria Antoinette, the \m* 
ft»rtunate Queen of Fiance, is thought to have been 
harsh and exaggerated, and not made with a due al- 
lowance for the peculiarity of her situation. " Her 
political opinions, conduct, and influence," it is said, 
"are not, perhaps, exaggerated, and to them, unfortu- 
nately, are to be attributed, with too much justice, the, unimpeded, and to .herself, most lamentable 
course of events, which a spirit less obduriite might 
have restrained, or turned to unmingled good. But 
there were traits of virtuous and lofty firmness, as well 
as of tenderness and affection in her character, which 
were more fully displayed in latter scenes of her life, 
aad which are confirmed in all the relations since 
given to the world by those who saw her intimately 
and latniiiarly, that do not seem altogether compatible 


with the picture presented by Mr. JefTeraon. Aod it 
should not be foi^otten, that at the time of his residence 
in France, the party opposed to Austria, which had 
arisen under the administration of Ghoiseul, and which 
had become more strong in that opposition from its 
connexion with Frederic and with Prussia, comprised 
the great proportion of the men of letters, and many of 
the patriotic leaders, with whom the most agreeable 
and natural associations of Mr. Jefferson were formed." 
But Mr. Jefferson's opinion, it must also be recollected, 
is that of a cool, calm, and temperate observer, unpre* 
judiced by passion, and uninfluenced by interest, and 
of one whose faith was not oAen pinned upon the un^^ 
supported assertions of others. As such, we give it to 
the reader : 

" Louis XVI. had a Queen of absolute sway over 
his weak mind, and timid virtue, and of a character 
the reverse of his in all points. This angel, as gaudily 
painted in the rhapsodies of Burke, with some smart- 
ness of fancy, but no sound sense, was proud, disdain- 
ful of restraint, indignant at all obsticles to her will, 
eager in the pursuit of pleasure, and firm enough to 
hold to her desires, or perish in the wreck. Her in- 
ordinate gambling and dissipations, with those of the 
Count d'Artois, and others of her clique^ had been a 
sensible item in the exhaustion of the treasury, which 
called into action the reforming hand of the nation ; 
and her opposition to it, her inflexible perverseness, 
and dauntless spirit, led herself to the guillotine, drew 
the King on with her, and plunged the world into crimes 
and calamities which will for ever stain the pages of 

modern history. I have ever believed, that had there 


16*2 LIFE OP Jfi*KfiRS05. 

beea no Queen, there would have been no revolutioii* 
No force would have been provoked, nor exercised • 
The King would have gone hand in hand with the 
wisdom of his sounder counsellors, who, guided hf 
the increased lights of the age, wished only, with the 
same space, to advance the principles of their social 
constitution. The deed which closed the mortal course 
<»f these sovereigns, I shall neither approve nor con* 
demn. I am not prepared to say, that the first magis- 
trate of a nation cannot commit treason against his 
country, or is unamenable to its punishment; nor yeff 
that there is no written law, no regulated tribunal, 
there is nc^ a law in our hearts, and a power in out 
hands, given for righteous employment in maintaining 
right, end redressing wrong. Of those who judged the 
King, many thought him wilfully criminal: many that 
his existence would keep the nation in perpetual con- 
diet with the horde of Kings, who would war against 
a regeneration which might come home to themselves^ 
and that it were better that one should die than all. I 
should not have voted with this portion of the legisla- 
ture. I should have shut up the Queen in a convent, 
putting harm out of her power, and placed the King in 
his station, investing him with limited powers, which, 
I verily believe, he would have honestly exercised, 
according to the measure of his understanding. In 
this way no void would have been created, courting the 
usurpation of a military adventurer, nor occasion given 
for those enormities which demoralized the nations of 
the world, and destroyed, and is yet to destroy, millions 
and millions of its inhabitants. There are three epochs 
in history, signalized by the total extinction of national 


xmotwHiy, The first was of the sucoessors af Alexande^y 

not omitting himself: the next, the successors of the 
first Caesar: the third, our own age. This was begua 
by the partition of Poland, followed by the treaty of 
Pilnitz ; next the conflagration of Copenhagen ; then 
Xhe enormities of Bonaparte, partitioning the earth at 
ills will, and devastating it with fire and sword ; now 
^he conspiracy of Kings, the successors of Bonaparte, 
•blasphemously calling themselves the Holy Allian6ei 
iOnd treading in the footsteps of their incarcerated lead- 
er; not yet, indeed, usurping the government of other 
nations, avowedly and in details, but controlling by their 
Armies Uie forms in which they will permit thetn to be 
governed ; and reserving m petto the order and extent 
of the usurpations further meditated." 

Thus regarding the situation and governments of 
£urope, it may be well supposed that he formed no 
ivery advantageous opinion of the political condition of 
the old world, and that he looked upon the general fat^ 
*of humanity there, as truly deplorable in comparisoa 
i¥ith that of his own more fortunate country. " H« 
«aw all around him the truth of Voltaire's observatio», 
that every man must be either the hammer or the an- 
'vil. The great mass of the people were suiTering under 
physical and moral oppression, while those whom for- 
tune had placed in a loftier sphere, sought in the con* 
dtant restlessness and tumult of ambition, dissipation, 
pomp, vanity, and unceasing intrigues of politics and 
love, that excitement which formed a .poor substitute 
'for higher aims and more lasting pleasures. In litera- 
ture and science, indeed, the learned, the -witty, and the 
eloquent mennvho will ever make (hat age reinarJcaUcy 

164 UFR OF ifeFFKRSOff. 

left far behind them the few scbolurs of the iofant 
publics ; but this was more than compensated by the 
wide diffusion of general knowledge through the whole 
mass in one community, while in the other, all but a 
small and favored circle were immersed in deep and 
general ignorance." 

Of fashionable life in Paris, we have his own pleasant 
and playful account, in his letter of February 7, 1787, 
to Mrs. Bingham: <*I know, madam, that the twelve- 
month is not yet expired, but it will be, nearly, before 
this will have the honor of being put into your hands. 
Tou are then engaged to tell me, truly and honestly, 
whether you do not find the tranquil pleasures of 
America preferable to the empty bustle of Paris. For 
to what does that bustle tend : At eleven o'clock, it is 
day, cAex madame^ The curtains are drawn. Propped 
on bolsters and pillows, and her head scratched into a 
little order, the bulletins of the sick are read, and the 
billets of the well . She writes to some of her acquaint- 
ance, and receives the visits of others. If the morning 
is not very thronged, she is able to get out and hobble 
round the cage of the Palais Royal; but she must 
hobble quic|j[ly, for the coiffeur's turn is come — and a 
tremendous turn it is ! Happy, if he does not make her 
arrive when dinner is half over! The torpitude of di- 
gestion a little passed, she flutters half an hour through 
the streets, by way of paying visits, and then to .the 
spectacles. These finished, another half hour is devoted 
to dodging in and out of the doors of her very sincere 
friends, and away to supper. After supper, cards ; and 
«fler cards, bed ; to rise at noon the next day, and to 
tread, like a mill-horse, the same trodden circle again. 


Thus the days of life are consumed, one by one, without 

an object beyond the present moment; ever flying from 

the enntd of that j yet carrying it with us ; eternally itt 

ptirsuit of happiness, which keeps etern&Uy before us. 

If death or bankruptcy happen to trip us out of the 

circle^ it is matter for the buzz of the evening, and is 

completely forgotten by the next morning. In America, 

on the other hand, the society of your husband, the fond 

cares for the children, the arrangements for the house, 

the improvements of the grounds, fill every moment 

with a healthy and a useful activity. Every exertion 

is encouraging, because to present amusement it joins 

the promise of some future good. The intervals of 

leisure are filled by the society of real friends, whose 

afiections are not thinned to cobweb, by being spread 

over a thousand objects. This is the picture, in the 

light it is presented to my mind; now let me have it 

in yours." 

Yet, as has been truly remarked, Mr. Jefferson was 
not insensible to those traits in the character of the 
French, which have thrown a charm over their nation 
— ^its manners, its society, its institutions, and its peo- 
ple ; which have long made its cities the resort alike 
of those who seek for amusement or for wisdom; 
which have placed it first in the scale of refinement, 
if not of intellect ; which have given to its exploits all 
the brilliant tints of gallantry and romance; which 
have made it the chosen abode, in modern times, of 
taste, of science, and of art ; and imparted to the luxu- 
ries of life, that elegance and zest, which, if to be de- 
ssir^d, are yet unaftained by the other nations of th^ 
world. Though the low and sullen murmurs of the 

166 UF£ OF JEPr£R$ON. 

approaching storm were heard while he yet remained 
there, the bursting of the tempest was delayed — the 
steps of palaces were still trodden by gallant noble^ 
who, in personal intercourse, seemed to forget the pride 
of plaoe and of birth, in the suavity and kindness of 
their manners — ^the gilded drawing rooms, the glittering 
theatres, the gardens cooled by fountains and adorned 
by statues, were still frequented by women, whose 
beauty and wit might seem to claim some pardon for 
their intrigues and crimes, and some hopes that they 
might escape impending desolation — the bureaux were 
still filled by statesmen, who so tempered and arranged 
the details of diplomatic intercourse, so displayed, 
when occasion offered, a candid and even a generous 
spirit, that those at least who were removed from the 
sphere of their designs, might look with less distrust 
or anxiety on vast schemes of political ambition, which 
were meant to embrace all the destinies of the age—*- 
the institutions of learning were still occupied by that 
large and singular body of literary triflers, whose speo 
ulations and researches are now seldom extricated from 
the long series of volumes which contain their lalxJrs 
and their dreams, but whose conversation varied and 
amused the society when it was eagerly welcomed and 
widely diffused. 

From these scenes Mr. Jefferson did not part with- 
out regret; on these scenes he often looked back in the 
subsequent and different portion of his earthly journey; 
and to them he referred not long before its termination, 
in language which betrays an impression vividly made, 
and still uneflaced. '* I cannot leave this great and 
good country," he says, after speaking of his residence 


in France, ** without expressing my sense of its pre-emi- 
nence of character, among the nations of the earth. A 
more benevolent people I have never known, nor greater 
warmth and devotedness in their select friendships.-^ 
Their kindness and accommodation to strangers is un* 
paralleled, and the hospitality of Paris is beyond any 
thing I had conceived to be practicable in a large city. 
Their eminence, too, in science, the communicative 
dispositions of their scientific men, the politeness of 
the general manners, the ease and vivacity of their 
conversation, give a charm to their society to be found 
no where else. In a compa|*ison of this with other 
countries, we have the proof of primacy, which was 
given to Themistocles after the battle of Salamis. — 
Every general voted to himself the first reward of va- 
lour, and the second to Themistocles. So, ask the 
travelled inhabitant of any nation, in what country on 
earth would you rather live ? Certainly, in my own, 
where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest 
and sweetest afiections and recollections of my life. 
Which would be your second choice? France." 

As Mr. Jefferson was absent from America both 
during the session of the convention which formed the 
constitution, and while that act was under discussion 
in the several states, he had no opportunity to take 
part in its formation. The want of a general govern- 
ment had been severely felt, and the difiUculties of the 
country were greatly increased, by the failure of treaties 
abroad, which might have given a system to our for- 
eign relations, that could scarcely be expected, while 
the states presented a social form so feebly connected ; 
the &d$ral constitution, therefore had been fram«d 


from a general conviction of its necessity. No ono. 
rejoiced more than Mr. Jefferson at the formation of 
the new constitution, and its ratification by the states.. 
Of the great mass of it, also, he entirely approved: 
the consolidation of the government; the organization 
in their branches ; the subdivision of the legislativo 
branch ; the happy compromise of interests betweea 
the large and small states, by the different manner of 
voting in the two houses; the voting by persons in* 
stead of states; the qualified negative on the laws giv« 
en to the Executive ; and the direct power of taxation. 
There were points, however, to which he had objec* 
tions, some less strong and some insuperable. But it 
is proper that the objections of so profound and popu* 
lar a statesman as Mr. Jefferson, and to so important 
an instrument, should be given in detail. In a letter to 
Mr. Madison, dated Paris, December 20, 1787, he thus 
writes: " I like much the general idea of framing a 
government, which should go on of itself, peaceably, 
without needing continual recurrence to the state leg« 
islatures. I like the organization of the govemm^it 
Into legislative, judiciary, and executive. I like the 
power given the legislature to levy taxes, and for that 
reason solely, I approve of the greater house being 
chosen by the people directly. For though I think ft 
house, so chosen, will be very far inferior to the pre- 
sent Congress, it will be very illy qualified to legislate 
for the Union, for foreign nations, &c. ; yet this evil does 
tiOi weigh against the good of preserving inviolate the 
fundamental principle, that the people are not to be 
tlixed but by representatives chosen immediately by 
themselves. I am captivated by the compromise of thf 


Opposite claims of the great and little states, of the 
latter to equal, and the former to proportional influence, 
I am much pleased, too, with the substitution of the 
method of voting by persons, instead of that of voting 
by states: and I like the negative given to the ExecU" 
tive, conjointly with a third of either house ; though 
I should have liked it better, had the judiciary been 
associated for that purpose, or invested separately with 
a similar power. There are other good things of less 

" I will now tell you what I do not like. First, the 
omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and 
without the aid of sophism, for freedom of religion, 
freedom of the press, protection against standing ar- 
mies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unre* 
mitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by 
jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the 
land, and not by the laws of nations. To say, as Mr. 
Wilson does, that a bill of rights was not necessary, 
because all is reserved in the care of the general gov- 
ernment which is not given, while in the particular 
ones, all is given which is not reserved, might do for 
the audience to which it was addressed : but it is sure- 
ly a gratis dictum, the reverse of which might just as 
well be said ; and it is opposed by strong inferences 
from the body of the instrument, as well as from the 
omission of the clause of our present Confederation, 
which had made the reservation in express terms. It 
was hard to conclude, because there has been a want 
of uniformity among the states as to the cases triable 
by jury, because some have been so incautious as to 

dispense with this mode of trial in certain cases, there- 


fore the more prudent states shall be reduced to the 
same level of calamity. It would have been much 
more just and wise to have concluded the other way, 
that as most of the states had preserved with jealousy 
this sacred palladium of liberty, those who had wan- 
dered should be brought back to it: and to have estab- 
lished general right rather than general wrong. For 
I consider all the ill as established, which may be es- 
tablished. I have a right to nothing, which another . 
has a right to take aWay ; and Congress will have a 
right to take away trials by jury in all civil cases.— ^ 
Let me add, that a bill of rights is what the people are 
entitled to against every government on earth, general 
or particular; and what no just govemmept should re- 
fuse, or rest on inference. 

"The second feature I dislike, and strongly dislikci 
is the abandonment, in every instance, of the principle 
of rotation in office, and most particularly in the case of 
the President. Heason and experience tell us, that th^ 
first magistrate will always be re-elected, if he may be 
re-elected. He is then an officer for life. This once 
observed, it becomes of so much consequence to certain 
nations to have a friend or a foe at the head of our 
affiiirs, that they will interfere with money and with 
arms. A Galloman, or nn Angloman, will be supported 
by the nation he befriends. If once elected, and at a 
second or third election outvoted by one or two votes, 
he will pretend false votes, foul play, hold possession 
of the reins of government, be supported by the states 
voting for him, especially if they be the central ones, 
lying in a compact body by themselves, and separating 
their opponents ; and they will be aided by one natioQ 

Lirfi OF JEFFERSON. .171 

In Europe, while the majority are aided by ^notIi>ef . 
The election of a President of America, some years 
hence, will be much more interesting to certain nations 
of Europe than ever the election of a King of Poland 
^as. Reflect on all the instances in history, ancient 
and modern, of elective monarchies, and say, if they do 
not give foundation for my fears; the Roman Emperors, 
the Popes while they were of any importance, the Ger- 
man Emperors till they became hereditary in practice, 
the Kings of Poland, the Days of the Ottoman depen- 
dencies. It may be said, that if elections are to be 
attended with these disorders, the less frequently they 
- are repeated, the belter. But experience says, that to 
free them from disorder, they must be rendered less 
interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign 
power, nor domestic party, will waste their blood and 
money to elect a person who must go out at the end of 
a short period. The power of removing every fourth 
year by the vote of the people, is a power which they 
will not exercise, and if they were disposed to axercise 
it, they would not be permitted. The King of Poland 
is removable every day by the Diet, but they never 
remove him: nor would Russia, the Emperor, <fec. per- 
mit them to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals 
on matter of fact as well as law ; and the binding all 
persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, by oath, 
to maintain the constitution. I do not pretend to decide 
what would be the best method of procuring the estab- 
lishment of the manifold good things in this constitu- 
tion, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopt- 
ing it, in hopes of future amendnoent, or after it shall 
bavt> been duly weighed and canvassed by the people, 


afler seeing the parts they generally dislike, and those 
they generally approve, to say to them, * We see now 
what you wish : you are willing to give up to your 
federal government such and such powers ; but you 
wish, at the same time, to have such and such funda- 
mental rights secured to you, and certain sources of 
convulsion taken away. Be it so. Send togetheryour 
deputies again. Let them establish your fundamental 
rights by a sacrosanct declaration, and let them pass 
the parts of the constitution you have approved. These 
will give powers to your federal government sufficient 
for your happiness." 

** This is what might be said, and would probably 
produce a speedy, more perfect, and more permanent 
form of government. At all events, I hope you will 
not be discouraged from making other trials, if the 
present one should fail. We are never permitted to 
despair of the commonwealth. I have thus told you 
freely what I like, and what I dislike, merely as a mat- 
ter of tsuriosity ; for I know it is not in my power to 
offer matter of information to your judgement, which 
has been formed after hearing and weighing every 
thing which the wisdom of man could offer on these 
subjects. I own, I am not a friend to a very energetic 
government. It is always oppressive. It places the 
Governors, indeed, more at their ease, at the expense 
of the people. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has 
given more alarm than I think it should have done. 
Calculate that one rebellion in thirteen states in the 
course of eleven years, is but one for each state in a 
century and a half* No country should be so long- 
witfaottt one. Nor will any degree of power in tha 

Ltr& Ol^ JEFFJBRSON. 173 

hands of government prevent insurrectbns. In Eng- 
land, where the hand of power is heavier than with 
us, there are seldom half a dozen years without an 
insurrection. In France, where it is still heavier, but 
less despotic, as Montesquieu supposes, than in some 
other countries, and where there are always two or three 
hundred thousand men ready to crush insurrections, 
there have been three in the course of the three years 
I have been here, in every one of which greater num- 
bers were engaged than in Massachusetts, and a great 
deal more blood was spilt. In Turkey, where the sole 
nod of the despot is death, insurrections are the events 
of every day. Compare again the ferocious depreda- 
tions of their insurgents with the order, the moderation, 
and the almost self extinguishment of ours. And say, 
finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving 
energy to the government, or Information to the people. 
This last is the most certain and the most legitimate 
engine of government. Educate and inform the whole 
mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is theit 
interest to preserve peace and order, and they will 
preserve them. And it requires no very high degree 
of education to convince them of this. They are the 
only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 
After all, it is my principle that the will of the majority 
should prevail. If they approve the proposed consti- 
tution in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in 
hopes they will amend it, whenever they shall find that 
it works wrong. This reliance cannot deceive us, as 
long as we remain virtuous; and I think we shall be 
so, as long as agriculture is our principal object, which 

will be the case while there remain vacant lands in 



aoy part of America. When we get piled upon one 
another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become 
corrupt, as in Europe, and go to eating one another as 
they do there." 

In another letter to the same distiilguished person- 
age, dated July 31, 1788, he remarks : " I sincerely 
rejoice at the acceptance of our oew constitution by 
nine states. It is a good canvass, on which some strokes 
only want retouching. What these are, I think are 
sufficiently manifested by the general voice from north 
to south, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems 
pretty generally understood, that this should -go to 
juries, habeas corpus^ standing armies, printing, reli- 
gion, and monopolies. I conceive there may be diffi- 
culty in finding general modifications of these, suited 
to the habits of all the states. But if such cannot be 
found, then it is better to establish trials by jury, the 
right of habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and free- 
dom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish standing 
armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, 
than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these 
things may do evil, cannot be weighed against the 
multitude wherein the want of them will do evil. In 
disputes between a foreigner and a nation, a trial by 
jury may be improper. But if this exception cannot 
be agreed to, the remedy will be to model the jury, by 
giving the medietas lingiuB in civil as well as crim- 
inal cases. Why suspend the habeas corpus in insur- 
xections and rebellions? The parties who may be 
arrested, may be charged instantly with a well-defined 
crime ; of course, the judge will remand them. If the 
fmblick safety rejiuires that the government ahoul4 


have a man imprisoned on less probable testimony ia 
those that in other emergencies, let him be taken and 
tried, re-taken and re-tried,' while the necessity con- 
tinues, only giving him redress against the government 
for damages. Examine the history of England. See 
how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas 
corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. - They 
have been either real treason, wherein the parties 
might as well have been charged at once, or sham 
plots, where it was shameful they should ever have 
been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the 
suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, 
that operation is now become habitual, and the minds 
of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant 
suspension. A declaration, that the federal government 
will never restrain the presses from printing any thing 
they please, will not take away the liability of the 
printers for false facts printed. The declaration, that 
religious faith shall be unpunished, does not give im- 
punity to criminal acts dictated by religious error. 
The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens the 
incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the 
hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen 
years ; but the benefit of even limited monopolies is too 
doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppres- 
sion. If no check can be found to keep the number of 
standing troops within safe bounds, while they are 
tolerated* as far as necessary, abandon them altogether, 
discipline well the militia, and guard the magazines 
with them. More than magazine guards will be use- 
less, if few ; and dangerous, if many. No European 
nation can ever send against us such a regular arm^ 


\s we need fear, and it is hard, if our militia are lUA 
equal to those of Canada or Florida. My idea, then, 
is, that though proper exceptions to these general rules 
are desirable, and probably practicable, yet if the ex- 
ceptions cannot be agreed on, the establishment of the 
rules, in all cases, will do ill in very few, I hope, 
therefore, a bill of rights will be formed, to guard the 
people against the federal government, as they are 
already guarded against their state governments, in 
most instances. The abandoning the principle of ne- 
cessary rotation in the Senate, has, I see, been disap- 
proved by many : in the case of the President, by nonet 
I readily, therefore, suppose my opinion wrongs when 
opposed by the majority, as in the former instance, and 
the totality, as in the latter. In this, however, I should 
have done it with more complete satisfaction, had we 
all judged from the same position." 

Many of these objections of Mr. Jefferson were 
afterwards obviated, by amendments to the constitu* 
tion. It was deemed best to leave the right of habeas 
rcorpus to the discretion of Congress; and the question 
oT the re-eligibility of the President, though not pro- 
posed or acted on formally, has received from the ex* 
ample of the officers in that high station, and the pro* 
gress of public opinion, a decision which may be 
almost considered as an established principle, any de* 
"viation from which would probably be opposed as a 
demonstration of ambitious views. 

There was another amendment, however, not madd 
or apparently thought of at the time, the omission of 
which Mr. JeflTerson deemed of fatal consequence, as 
leading uncrushed the germe that was to destroy the 


wise combination of national powers. The evil he so 
much feared, was the entire irresponsibility of the 
judges, and their independence of the nation. He thus 
refers to this subject in his memoirs: "But there was 
another amendment of which none of us thought at the 
time, and in the omission of which, lurks the germe 
that is to destroy this happy combination of national 
powers, in the general government, for matters of na- 
tional concern, and independent powers in the states, 
for what concerns the states severally. In England, it 
was a great point gained at the revolution, that the 
commissions of the judges, which had hitherto been 
during pleasure, should thenceforth be made during 
good behaviour. A judiciary, dependent on the will of 
the King, had proved itself the most oppressive of all 
tools in the hand of that magistrate. Nothing, then, 
could be more salutary, than a change there, to the 
tenor of good behavior; and the question of good 
behavior, left to the vote of a simple majority in the 
two houses of Parliament. Before the revolution, we 
were all good English whigs, cordial in their free 
principles, and in their jealousies of their Executive 
magistrate. These jealousies are very apparent, In all 
our state constitutions; and, in the general govern- 
ment in this instance, we have gone even beyond the 
English caution, by requiring a vote of two-thirds in 
one of the houses, for removing a judge : a vote so 
impossible, where any defence is made, before men of 
ordinary prejudices and passions, that oiir judges are 
effectually independent of the nation. But this ought 
not to be. I would not, indeed, make them dependent 
on the Executive authority, as they formerly where in 


England ; but I deem it indispensable to the continu- 
ance of this government that they should be submit- 
ted to some practical and impartial control ; and that 
this, to be impartial, must be compounded of a mixture 
of state and federal authorities. It is not enough, that 
honest men are appointed judges. All know the influ- 
ence of interest on the mind of man, and how uncon- 
sciously his judgement is warped by that influence. — 
To this bias add that of the esprit de corps^ of their pe- 
culiar naaxim and creed, * that it is the office of a good 
judge to enlarge his jurisdiction,' and the absence of 
responsibility ; and how can we expect impartial de- 
cision between the general government, of which they 
are themselves so eminent a part, and an individual 
state, from which they have nothing to hope or fear ? 
We have seen, too, that, contrary to all correct exam- 
p)e, they are in the habit of g3ing out of the question 
before them, to throw an anchor ahead, and grapple 
further hold for future advances of power. They are 
then, in fact, the corps of sappers and miners, steadily 
woricing to undermine the independent rights of the 
states, and to consolidate all power in the hands of that 
government, in which they have so important a freehold 
estate. But it is not by the consolidation or concentra- 
tion of powers, but by their distribution, that good gov- 
ernment is effected. Were not this great country al- 
ready divided into states, the division must be made, 
that each might do &r itself what concerns itself di- 
rectly, and what if can so much better do than a dis- 
tant a thority. Every state again is divided into coun- 
ties, each to take care of what lies within its locfti 
i^unds; each county again into townships or wardsi 

UfE of JEFFERSON. 179 

to manage minuter details; and every ward into farms, 
to be governed each by its individual proprietor. — 
Were we directed from Washington when to sow and 
when to reap, we should soon want bread. It is by 
this partition of cares, descending in gradation from 
general to particular, that the mass of human affairs 
may be best managed, for the good and prosperity of 
all. I repeat, that I do not charge the judges^ with 
wilful and ill-intentioned error; but honest error musjt 
be arrested, where its toleration leads to public ruin. 
As, for the safety of society, . we commit honest ma» 
niacs to Bedlam, so judges should be withdrawn from 
their bench, whose erroneous biases are leading us to 
dissolution. It may, indeed, injure them in fame or 
in fortune; but it saves the republic, which is the 
first and supreme law." 

Neither, while abroad, was Mr. Jefferson a little 
efficient in redeeming the credit of his government. — 
*' Among the debilities of the govcrpment of the Con- 
federation," says he, "no one wfts more distinguished 
or more distressing, than the utter impossibility of ob- 
taining from the states, the moneys necessary for the 
payment of debts, or even for the ordinary expenses of 
the governments Some contributed a little, some less, 
and some nothing; and the last, furnished at length an 
excuse for the first., to do nothing also. Mr. Adams, 
while residing nt the H^Lgue, had a general au hority to 
borrow what sjims might be requisite for ordinary and 
necessary e:^peD^s. Interest on the public debt, and 
the maintenance of the deplomatic establishment in 
Europe, had been habitually provided in this way. 
He was npw elected Vice President of the United 


States, was soon to return to America, and had referred 
our bankers to me for future counsel, on our affairs in 
their hands. But I had no powers, no instructions, 
no means, and no familiarity with the subject. It had 
always been exclusively under his management, except 
as to occasional and partial deposites in the hands of 
Mr. Grand, banker in Paris, for special and local pur- 
poses. These last had been exhausted for some time, 
and I had fervently pressed the Treasury Board to 
replenish this particular deposite, as Mr. Grand now 
refused to make further advances. They answered 
candidly, that no funds could be obtained until the new 
government should get into action, and have time to 
make its arrangements. Mr. Adams had received his 
appointment to the court of London, while engaged at 
Paris with Dr. Franklin and myself, in the negotia- 
tions under our joint commissions. He had repaired 
thence to London, without returning to the Hague, to 
take leave of that government. He thought it neces- 
sary, however, to do so now, before he should leave 
Europe, and accordingly went there. I learned his 
departure from London, by a letter from Mrs. Adams, 
received on the very day on which he would arrive at 
the Hague. A consultation with him, and some pro- 
vision for the future, was indispensable, while we 
could yet avail ourselves of his powers; for when 
they would be gone, we should be without resource. 
I was daily dunned by b. company who had formerly 
made a small loan to the United States, the principal 
of which was now become due ; and our bankers in 
Amsterdam had notified me, that the interest on our 
gsneral debt wouH t>e expected inJfune; that if ve 


failed to pay it, would be deemed an act of bankrupt- 
cy, and would effectually destroy the credit of the 
United States, and all future prospects of obtaining 
money there ; that the loan they had been authorized 
to open, of which a third only was filled, had now ceased 
to get forward, and rendered desperate that hope of 
resource. I saw that there was not a moment to lose, 
and set out for the Hague on the second. morning afteir 
receiving the information of Mr. Adams' journey. I 
went the direct road by Louvres, Senlis, Roye, Pont St. 
Maxence, Bois le Due, Gournay, Peronne, Cambray, 
Bouchain, Valenciennes, Mons, BrUxeltes, Malines, 
Antwerp, Mordic, and Rotterdam, to the Hague, Were 
I happily found Mr. Adams. He concurred with me 
at once in opinion, that something must be done, and 
We ought to risk ourselves on doing it, without waiting 
for instructions, to save the credit of the United States. 
We foresaw, that before the new government could be 
adopted, assembled, establish its financial system, get 
the money into the treasury, and place it in Europe, 
considerable time would elapse ; that, therefore, we had 
better provide at once for the years '88, '89, and '90, 
in order to place our government at its ease, and our 
credit in security, during that trying interval. We 
set out, therefore, by the way of Leyden for Amsterdam, 
where we arrived on the 10th. Mr. Adams executed 
1,000 bonds, for 1,000 florins each, and deposited them 
in the hands of our bankers, with instructions, however, 
not to issue them until Congress should ratify the mea- 
sure. This done, he returned to London, and I set out 
for Paris." 


^ I 



The remaining portion of Mr. Jefferson's public 
life, is embraced in a period of nineteen years, during 
which he held successively, in the government of his 
own country, the high and lionorable offices of Secre- 
tary of State, Vice President, and President of the Uni- 
ted States. The history of this is so familiar, and, 
incleed, so many now living have been eyewitnesses of 
its events, that it is unnecessary, and would be far too 
prolix, to pursue the narrative of them in regular de- 
tail; and neither could this be done without writing 
the history of the United States for a certain period. 
It would, therefore, come within our prescribed limits, 
and be more agreeable to the reader, when we select 
such prominent topics as are connected with the sub- 
ject of these memoirs, and more likely to excite a gen- 
eral interest. 

The national legislature, under the new system of 
government, convened at New York on the fourth day 
of March, 1789, and consisted of senators and repre? 
sentatives from eleven states. A quorum of bc4;l) 
houses did not attend until the sixth of April, wj^en, on 
counting the electoral votes, it appeared that Greorge 
Washington was unanimously chosen President, and 
that John Adams was elected Vice President. 


Whatever difierence of opinion existed among the 
people of the United States with respect to the govern- 
ment itself, thefe was none as to the person who, as 
their first chief magistrate, was to be selected to ad- 
minister it. All eyes, from the beginning, were turned 
to General Washington, as the first President; and he 
received what perhaps no individual, in so high a sta> 
tion, in any age, ever before received, the unanimous 
and voluntary suffragrs of a whole nation. 

Informed of his election by a special message, the 
President immediately left his beloved retreat, and set 
out for the seat of government. He was received on 
his way by the sincere congratulations of numerous 
public bodies as well as individuals. 

He was met at Elizabethtown by a committee from 
both houses of Congress, and escorted into the city of 
New York amidst the acclamations of thousands. 

On the 30th of April, the oath of office was admin- 
istered to him by the Chancellor of the stat^ of New- 
York, in the gallery in front of the Senate chamber, 
in the presence of the members of the Senate and House 
of Representatives, and a vast concourse of citizens; 
and he was proclaimed President of the United States. 
Every countenance beamed with inexpressible joy at 
the sight of the venerated chief, to whom, under God, 
they were so much indebted, not only for their indepen- 
dence, but that form of government, in the adminis- 
tration of which he had consented to take a share, and 
which he had in their presence solemnly sworn to 

Shortly after this impressive investment, Mr. Jeffer- 
son returned to the United States, having, for this pur- 


aoy part of America. When we get piled upon one 
another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall becoxne 
corrupt, as in Europe, and go to eating one another as 
they do there." 

In another letter to the same distii^guished person- 
age, dated July 31, 1788, he remarks : " I sincerely 
rejoice at the acceptance of our new constitution by 
nine states. It is a good canvass, on which some strokes 
only want retouching. What these are, I think are 
sufficiently manifested by the general voice from north 
to south, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems 
pretty generally understood, that this should -go to 
juries, habeas corpus^ standing armies, printing, reli- 
gion, and monopolies. I conceive there may be diffi- 
culty in finding general modifications of these, suited 
to the habits of all the states. But if such cannot be 
found, then it is better to establish trials by jury, the 
right of habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and free- 
dom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish standing 
armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, 
than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these 
things may do evil, cannot be weighed against the 
multitude wherein the want of them will do evil. In 
disputes between a foreigner and a nation, a trial by 
Jury may be improper. But if this exception cannot 
be agreed to, the remedy will be to model the jury, by 
gtving the medietas Ungiuie in civil as well as crim- 
inal cases. Why suspend the habeas corpus in insur- 
rections and rebellions? The parties who may be 
arrested, may be charged instantly with a well-defined 
crime ; of course, the judge will remand them. If the 
fmblick safety requires that the government ahDi2l4 


have a man imprisoned on less probable testimony in 
those that in other emergencies, let him be taken and 
tried, re-taken and re-tried,' while the necessity con- 
tinues, only giving him redress against the government 
for damages. Examine the history of England. See 
how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas 
corpus law have been worthy of that suspension.- They 
liave been either real treason, wherein the parties 
might as well have been charged at once, or sham 
plots, where it was shameful they should ever have 
been suspected. Yet for the few cases whereiQ the 
suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, 
that operation is now become habitual, and the minds 
of the nation almost prepared to live under its43onstant 
suspension. A declaration, that tJie federal government 
will never restrain the presses from printing any thing 
they please, will not take away the liability of the 
printers for false facts printed. The declaration, that 
religious faith shall be unpunished, does not give im- 
punity to criminal acts dictated by religious error. 
The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens the 
incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the 
hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen 
years ; but the benefit of even limited monopolies is too 
doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppres- 
«ion. If no check can be found to keep the number of 
standing troops within safe bounds, while they are 
tolerated* as far as necessary, abandon them altogether, 
discipline well the militia, and guard the magazines 
with them. More than magazine guards will be use- 
less, if few J and dangerous, if many. No European 
nation can ever send against us such a regular army 


any part of America. When we get piled upon one 
another in large cities, as in Burope, we shall become 
corrupt, as in Europe, and go to eating one another as 
they do there." 

In another letter to the same distii^guished person- 
age, dated July 31, 1788, he remarks : " I sincerely 
rejoice at the acceptance of our new constitution by 
nine states. It is a good canvass, on which some strokes 
only want retouching. What these are, I think are 
sufficiently manifested by the general voice from north 
to south, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems 
pretty generally understood, that this should go to 
juries, habeas corpus^ standing armies, printing, reli« 
gion, and monopolies. I conceive there may be diffi« 
culty in finding general modifications of these, suited 
to the habits of all the states. But if such cannot be 
found, then it is better to establish trials by jury, the 
right of habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and free- 
dom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish standing 
armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, 
than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these 
things may do evil, cannot be weighed against the 
multitude wherein the want of them will do evil. In 
disputes between a foreigner and a nation, a trial by 
jury may be improper. But if this exception cannot 
he agreed to, the remedy will be to model the jury, by 
giving the medietas UngtuB in civil as well as crim- 
inal cases. Why suspend the habeas corptts in insur- 
xections and rebellions? The parties who may be 
arrested, may be charged instantly with a well-defined 
crime ; of course, the judge will remand them. If the 
publick safety requires that the government should 


liave a man imprisoned on less probable testimony in 
those that in other emergencies, let him be taken and 
tried, re-taken and re-tried, while the necessity con- 
tinues, only giving him redress against the government 
for damages. Examine the history of England. See 
how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas 
corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. - They 
have been either real treason, wherein the parties 
might as well have been charged at once, or sham 
plots, where it was shameful they should ever have 
been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the 
suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, 
that operation is now become habitual, and the minds 
of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant 
suspension. A declaration, that tJae federal government 
will never restrain the presses from printing any thing 
they please, will not take away the liability of the 
printers for false facts printed. The declaration, that 
religious faith shall be unpunished, does not give im- 
punity to criminal acts dictated by religious error. 
The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens the 
incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the 
hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen 
years ; but the benefit of even limited monopolies is too 
doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppres- 
«ion. If no check can be found to keep the number of 
standing troops within safe bounds, while they are 
tolerated' as far as necessary, abandon them altogether, 
discipline well the militia, and guard the magazines 
with them. More than magazine guards will be use- 
less, if few ; and dangerous, if many. No European 
nation can ever send against us such a regular army 


any part of America. When we get piled upon one 
another in large cities, as in Burope, we shall become 
corrupt, as in Europe, and go to eating one another as 
they do there." 

In another letter to the same distinguished person- 
age, dated July 31, 1788, he remarks : " I sincerely 
rejoice at the acceptance of our new constitution by 
nine states. It is a good canvass, on which some strokes 
only want retouching. What these are, I think are 
sufficiently manifested by the general voice from north 
to south, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems 
pretty generally understood, that this should go to 
juries, habeas corpus^ standing armies, printing, reli- 
gion, and monopolies. I conceive there may be diffi« 
culty in finding general modifications of these, suited 
to the habits of all the states. But if such cannot be 
found, then it is better to establish trials by jury, the 
right of habeas corpus^ freedom of the press, and free- 
dom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish standing 
armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, 
than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these 
things may do evil, cannot be weighed against the 
multitude wherein the want of them will do evil. In 
disputes between a foreigner and a nation, a trial by 
jury may be improper. But if this exception cannot 
be agreed to, the remedy will be to model the jury, by 
giving the medietas lingucR in civil as well as crim- 
inal cases. Why suspend the habeas corpus in insur- 
sections and rebellions? The parties who may be 
arrested, may be charged instantly with a well-defined 
crime ; of course, the judge will remand them. If the 
fmblick safety requires that the government should 


Lave a man imprisoned on less probable testimony ia 
those that in other emergencies, let him be taken and 
tried, re-taken and re-tried," while the necessity con- 
tinues, only giving him redress against the government 
for damages. Examine the history of England. See 
how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas 
corpus law have been worthy of that suspension.- They 
have been either real treason, wherein the parties 
might as well have been charged at once, or sham 
plots, where it was shameful ^ey should ever have 
been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the 
suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, 
that operation is now become habitual, and the minds 
of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant 
suspension. A declaration, that the federal government 
will never restrain the presses from prifitii3g any thing 
they please, will not take away the liability of the 
printers for false facts printed. The declaration, that 
religious faith shall be unpunished, does not give im- 
punity to criminal acts dictated by religious error. 
The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens the 
incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the 
hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen 
years ; but the benefit of even limited monopolies is too 
doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppres- 
«ion. If no check can be found to keep the number of 
standing troops within safe bounds, while they are 
tolerated* as far as necessary, abandon them altogether! 
discipline well the militia, and guard the magazines 
with them. More than magazine guards will be use- 
less, if few ; and dangerous, if many. No European 
nation can ever send against us such a regular arm^ 

190 LiF£ OP JEFi^ERSOrl. 

supported; and the interests of the citizens were cher- 
ished and protected. At home, he turned his attention 
to objects of a minuter character, but of equal impor- 
tance ; he laid before Congress, from time to time, re« 
ports on various branches of domestic policy, which 
displayed at once the extent and variety of his genius, 
the depth of his information, and the zeal with which 
he applied them both to the peculiar duties of his situ- 
ation. It has been observed, that these papers evince 
not only the feelings of a patriot, and the judgement of 
an accomplished statesman, but display at the same 
time, uncommon talents and knowledge as a mathe* 
matician and natural philosopher, the deepest research 
as a historian, and an enlarged and intimate acquain- 
tance with the business and concerns of a merchant. 

The national legislature, during its first session, was 
principally occupied in providing revenues for the long 
exhausted treasury, in establishing a judiciary, in or- 
ganizing the executive departments in detail, and in 
framing amendments to the constitution, agreeably to 
the suggestion of the President. The members imme- 
diately entered upon the exercise of those powers so 
long refused under the old system of general govern- 
ment. They imposed a tunnage duty, as well as du- 
ties on various imported articles. In the exercise of 
these powers, they did not lose sight of the navigating 
interest of their country, which had so long been at the 
mercy of other nations. 

We have always deemed it the peculiar charity of 
Heaven, is the remark of a distinguished writer, that, 
at this time, such a man as George Washington was 
given to fill the high and novel station of first magis. 


Irate of the Union. One of different talents, one less 
endowed with exalted and uncommon qualities, one 
who was merely respected as a citizen, or known 
merely as a statesman of routine^ in short, one who 
was not venerated as a father, would have brought to 
the first operations of this new and complicated gov* 
ernment, nothing to enforce it beyond its own intrin* 
sic merits. It would have been less impressive and 
efficient; and although republican principles and hab« 
its would undoubtedly have carried it through, yet it 
would have been coldly, and sometimes reluctantly 
adopted. The slow progress which it would then 
have made, the opposition which, at times, would prob. 
ably have been presented by state administrations, feel« 
ing themselves somewhat shorn of their power, were 
prevented by the overbearing but unassuming influence 
of a name which memory ever found prominent in 
military recollections, and always safe in civil and do* 
mestic action. 

Nor is it at all inconsistent with republicanism, that 
among men all politically equal, public preference 
should accompany those who are the most meritorious. 
There cannot be an agrarian law of the mind. Tal- 
ent and virtue must ascend, and must acquire the con- 
fidence and trust of the community. But Is there no 
danger ? May not confidence and trust be carried too 
far? The answer is found in a written constitution, 
full of checks and balances ; and We may confidently 
throw into the scale the moderation and good sense of 
our citizens. Compare this country with all we know 
of other oountries^— the North American republio 
wtth every other republic — the petty, rancoroui ^ 


mocracies of ancient Greece — ^the disjoined, venal 
Romans — the aristocracies of Venice atad Genoa, and 
others of modern times — ^the ephemeral republic of 
France— the southern part of our own continent in 
its present awful convulsions — do we hot perceive that 
we have a natural character distinct from all of thetn ? 
Here it would be impossible for a Julius Caesar to ar- 
ray a military force against the liberties of his coun- 
try ; it would be unnecessary to expel an Aristides by 
ostracism. We adhere to the letter of the constitution j 
it is the safest rule. No public instrument ever was 
so cautiously, so accurately framed. There is in it 
nothing superfluous, nothing defective. The letter is 
itself the spirit of it. 

" Mr. Jefferson had scarcely entered on the duties of 
his office, when Congress referred to him a subject 
whose nature and importance called for the exercise of 
a mature judgement, while its intricacy was such, as 
to require in the investigation more than ordinary sci>> 
entific knowledge. They directed him to prepare 
and report a plan for establishing a uniform system of 
currency, weights and measures. This was a subject, 
admitted on all hands, which demanded very se- 
rious attention. It had already attracted the notice of 
the most enlightened European nations ; and a partial 
experiment in one branch, that of the public curren- 
cy, had been received throughout the United States 
with general approbation and unexpected success. — 
The established system of weights and measures was 
alike inconvenient and absurd. In the ages of feudal 
ignorance, when the sallies of passion, the dictates of 
unrestrained ambition, or the gratification of each 


changing caprice, were all that a monarch asked as 
the foundation of his laws, it was at least not incon- 
eistent, that the length of his arm or foot should regu- 
late the measures of the nation. But the necessities of 
modem commercial intercourse, seem to demand a 
{scale more certain and convenient ; while the improve- 
ments of modem science offered standards of unerring 
correctoess and uniformity. The first object that pre- 
sents itself in such an inquiry, is the discovery of some 
pleasure of invariable length. For this purpose, Mr. 
Jefferson proposed to select a pendulum vibrating se- 
conds; and, afler answering the various objections 
which may be made to such a standard, he submits to 
Congress two alternative plans fbr its adoption. By 
the first he proposes, that if, in the opinion of Con- 
gress, the difficulty of changing the established habits 
of the nation, renders it expedient to retain the present 
weights and measures, yet that they should be render- 
ed uniform and invariable, by bringing them to the 
same invariable standard. With this view, he enters 
minutely into the details of the present system, its his- 
tory, the remarkable coincidence to be discovered in 
some of its varieties, its useless inconsistencies, and 
the extreme case, and trifling variation, with which it 
may be rendered uniform and stable." 

In the second alternative he proceeds to say, "If it 
be thought that either now or at any future tinae, the 
citizens of the United States may be induced to updev- 
take a thorough reformation of the whole system of 
measures, weights, and coins, reducing every branch 
to the same decimal ratio already established in their 

c><Mns, und thus bringing the calculation of the prinoi- 



pal afTairs of life within the arithmetic of every man 
who can multiply and divide plain numbers, greater 
changes will be necessary." 

These changes he points out briefly and distinctly, 
as being such as are easy of introduction, and useful 
both to the citizens of our own and foreign countries. 
'* A gradual introduction," he concludes, " would lessen 
the inconveniences which might attend too sudden a 
substitution, even of an easier for a more difficult sys- 
tem. After a given term, for instance, it might begin 
in the custom-houses, where the merchants would be- 
come familiarized with it. After a further term, it 
might be introduced into all legal proceedings; and 
merchants and traders in foreign commodities might 
be required to use it in their dealings with one another. 
After a still further term, all other descrif tions of pea* 
pie might receive it into common use. Too long a 
postponement, on the other hand, would increase tlie 
difficulties of its reception with the increase of our 

Notwithstanding this able report of Mr. Jefierson, 
the system recommended by him was not adopted ; and 
there has as yet been no change in the existing laws. 
But it is to be hoped, that the views of Mr. Jefierson 
will not be lost sight of among h'w countrymen, and 
that an important impi*ovement will not be relinquished 
from a fear that their habits are sq firmly fixed as to 
preclude its introduction. 

**0n the 18th of January, 1791, Mr. Jefferson made 
a report, as Secretary of State, on the subject of tun* 
nage duties payable by France. Very soon after the 
meeting of the first Coogreaa» the same 4ul^)«ct bed 


been discussed in that body with cdnsiderable animft- 
tion, and an act had passed the House of Representa- 
tives, embracing a discrimination in these duties highly 
favorable to France. The principle thus adopted, co- 
incided with the general sentiments of the nation, and 
appeared to be called for, not by this circumstance only, 
but by the strongest dictates of national gratitude, as 
well as those of sound policy. This discrimination 
was rejected, however, by the Senate, and the House 
of Representatives were obliged, reluctantly, to yield. 
What it was thus deemed inexpedient to grant, even as 
a matter of favor or policy, the French government 
demanded as a right under the treaty of amity and com- 
merce of 1778. The demand was referred to Mr. Jef- 
ferson, by the President, and elicited from him the able 
report to which we have alluded. In this he clearly 
proved, that the article of the treaty on which the 
French government founded their claim, was evident- 
ly meant to extend no further than to the exemption of 
the United States from a duty from which other favor- 
ed nations were al5H> exempted, and that, in return, 
France could claim of our government no greater ad- 
vantages than favored nations also received of us. 
That if the article in question had a more extended 
relation, it applied reciprocally to each government, 
and would lead to the mutual abolition of duties 
highly useful to both, and to consequences in which 
it was hardly conceivable that either party could see 
its interest. But he appears to incline to the opin- 
ion, that if France persisted in claiming this ex- 
emption, there were extrinsic causes which might 
justify^ and even render advisable some relaxation 


ill ber favor; not on the grounds on which it was 
demanded, but from the dfect it would have on the 
finances, revenue, and commerce of our own country- 
This report the President immediately submitted to the 
Senate of the United States. 

To aid in the management of the national finaocesy 
the Secretary of the Treasury had previously recom- 
mended the establishment of a bank ; and in February, 
1791, an act passed for that purpose. The preamble 
disclosed the principal reasons for its adoption, declar- 
ing <*that it would be conducive to the successful con- 
ducting of the national finances, give facility to the 
obtaining of loans for the use of the government in 
sudden emergencies," and would also be " productive 
of considerable advantage to trade and industry in 

The capital stock of the bank was ten millions of 
dollars; two millions to be subscribed for the benefit of 
the United States, and the residue by individuals. One 
fourth of the sums subscribed by individuals was to be 
paid in gold and silver, and three fourths in the public 
debt. By the act of incorporation, it was to be a bank 
of discount as well as deposite, and its bills, which 
were payable in gold and silver on demand, were made 
receivable in all payments to the United States. The 
bank was located at Philadelphia, with power in the 
directors to establish offices of discount and deposite 
only, whereever they should think fit within the United 
States. The duration of the charter was limited 
to the fourth of March, 1611 ; and the faith of the 
United States was pledged, that during that period no 
Other bank should be established under their authority. 


One of the fundamental articles of the incorporation 
was that no loan should be made to the United States 
for more than one hundred thousand dollars, or to any 
particular state for more than fifly thousand, or to any 
foreign Prince or state, unless previously authorized 
by a law of the United States. The books were opened 
for subscriptions in July, 1791, and a much larger 
sum subscribed than was allowed by the charter; and 
the bank went into successful operation. This measure 
was not adopted without warm and violent debates. 

It was said in opposition, in the first place, that Con- 
gress had no power, under the constitution, to create 
this or any other corporation ; in the second place, that 
80 large a moneyed institution would, in its ejects, be 
highly injurious to the community. Its advocates, on 
the other hand, contended, generally, that the establish- 
ment of an institution of this kind, though not within 
the express words of the constitution, was among the 
incidental powers contemplated by that part of the in- 
strument which enabled Congress to make all laws 
necessary and proper for carrying into execution the 
powers expressly granted. 

The President, before approving the bill, requested 
the opinions of the members of his cabinet, in writing, 
as to its constitutionality. The Secretary of State, and 
Attorney Greneral, were of opinion, that the bill was 
unconstitutional, while the Secretaries of the Treasury, 
and War, were of a different opinion, and concurred 
with the majority in Congress. Mr. Jefferson was de- 
cidedly and warmly opposed to this institution, not only 
on account of its unconstitutionality, but on account of 

the danger to be apprehended to government from the 


198 L1F£ OP J£PF£RSON. 

exorbitancy of its power, and the injury which it might 
inflict on community. The following is his official 
opinion on the constitutional question : 

''The bill for establishing a national bank, under- 
takes, among other things, 

1. To form the subscribers into a corporation. 

2. To enable them, in their corporate capacities, to 
receive grants of land ; and so far, is against the laws 
of Mortmain. 

3. To make alien subscribers capable of holding 
lands ; and so far, is against the laws of Alienage. 

4. To transmit these lands, on the death of a pro- 
prietor, to a certain line of successors ; and so far^ 
changes the course of Descents* 

5. To put the lands out of the reach of forfeiture and 
escheat, and so far, is against the laws of Forfeiture 
and Escheat, 

6. To transmit personal chattels to successors in a 
certain line; and so far, is against the laws of Distri'- 

7. To give them the sole and exclusive right of 
banking under the national authority ; and so far, is 
against the laws of Monopoly, 

8. To communicate to them a power to make laws 
paramount to the laws of the states ; for so they must 
be construed, to protect the institution from the control 
of the state legislature ; and so, probably, they will be 

I consider the foundation of the constitution as laid 
on this ground, that 'all powers not delegated to the 
United States, by the constitution, nor prohibited by it 
jto the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' 


(Twelfth amendmeut.) To take a single step beyond 
the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers 
of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field 
of power, no longer susceptible of any definition. 

The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed 
by this bill, have not, in my opinion, been delegated to 
the United States by the constitution. 

I. They are not among the powers specially enume- 
rated . For these are, 

1. A power to lay taxes for the purpose of paying 
the debts of the United States. But no debt is paid by 
ihis bill, nor any tax laid. Were it a bill to raise 
money, its origination in the Senate would condemn it 
by the constitution. 

/2. To * borrow money.' But this bill neither bor- 
cows money, nor ensures the borrowing it. The pro- 
prietors of the bank will be just as free as any other 
money-holders, to, lend or not to lend their money to 
the public. The operation proposed in the bill, first 
to lend them two millions, and then borrow them back 
again, cannot change the nature of the latter act, which 
will still be a payment and not a loan, call it by what 
name you please. 

3. *To regulate commerce with foreign nations, 
and among ths states, and with the Indian tribes.' To 
enact a bank, and to regulate commerce, are two very 
different acts. He who erects a bank creates a subject 
of commerce in its bills ; so does he who makes a 
bushel of wheat, or digs a dollar out of the mines. — 
Yet neither of these persons regulates commerce there- 
by. Tq make a thing which may be bought and sold, 
is not to prescribe regulations for buying and selling. 



* --^*.£ 


200 LtF£ OF JEKK£RSOiN» 

Besides, if this were an exercise of the power of reg- 
ulating commerce, it would be void, as extending sis 
much to the internal commerce of every state, as to its 
external. For the power given to Congress by the 
constitution, does not extend to the internal regulation 
of the commerce of a state, (that is to say, of the com- 
merce between citizen and citizen.) which remains ex- 
clusively within its own legislature ; but to its external 
commerce only, that is to say, its commerce with anoth- 
er state, or with foreign nations, or with the Indian 
tribes. Accordingly, the bill does not .propose the 
measure as a ' regulation of trade,' but as * productive 
of considerable advantagb to trade.' 

Still less are these powers covered by any other of 
the special enumerations. 

II. Nor are they within either of the general phra- 
ses, which are the two following: 

1. • To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare 
of the United States ;' that is to say, *to lay taxes^br 
the purpose of providing for the general welfare.'-— 
For the laying of taxes is the power^ and the general 
welfare the purpose for which the power is to be ex- 
ercised. Congress are not to lay taxes, ad libitum^for 
any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts^ 
or provide for the welfare of the Union, In like 
manner, they are not to do any thing they please to 
provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes 
for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as 
describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a dis. 
tinct and independent power to do any act they please 
which might be for the good of the Union, would ren- 
der all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of 

Life op jbfferson. 201 

power completely useless. It would reduce the whole 
instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Con* 
gress with the power to do whatever would be for the 
good of the United.States ; and as they would be the 
sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a pow. 
er to do whatever evil they pleased. It is an establish- 
ed rule of construction, when a phrase will bear either 
of two meanings, to give it that which will allow some 
meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not 
that which will render all the others useless. Certain, 
ly, no such universal power was meant to be given 
them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within 
the enumerated powers, and those without which, as 
means, these powers could not be carried into effect. It 
is known that the very power now proposed as a means^ 
was rejected cls an end by the convention which form- 
en the constitution. A proposition was ' made to them 
to authorize Congress to open canals, and an amenda- 
tory one, to empower them to incorporate. But the 
whole was rejected ; and one of the reasons of rejec- 
tion urged in the debate was, that they then would 
have a power to erect a bank, which would render the 
great cities, where there were prejudices and jealousies 
on that subject, adverse to the reception of the consti- 

2. The second general phrase is, < to make all laws 
necessary and proper for carrying into execution the 
enumerated powers.' But they can all be carried into 
execution without a bank. A bank, therefore, is not 
necessaryy and consequently, not authorized by this 
It has been much urged, that a bank will give great 


facility or convenience to the collection of taxes. Sup- 
pose this were true ; yet the constitution allows only 
the meails whidh are 'riedessary,' not those which are 
merely 'convenient,' for effecting the enumerated pow- 
ersi If such a latitude of construction be allowed to this 
phrase, as to give any non-enumerated power, it will go 
to every one; for there is no one which ingenility may 
not torture into a convenience, in some way or Othef^ 
to some one of so long a list of enumerated powers- 
It would swallow up all the delegated powers, and 
reduce the whole to one phrase, as before observed. 
Therefore it was, that the constitution restrained them 
to the necessary means, that is to say, to those means 
without which the grant of the power would be nuga- 

But let us examine this * convenience,' and see what 
it is. The report on this subject states the only ^encr- 
al convenience to be, the preventing the transpor- 
tation and re transportation of money between the 
States and the treasury. (For I pass over the increase 
of circulating medium ascribed to it as a merit, and 
which according to my ideas of paper money is clearly 
a demerit.) Every state will have to pay a sum of 
tax money into the treasury ; and the treasury will 
have to pay in every slate a part of tiie interest on the 
public debt, and salaries to the officers of govern- 
ment resident in that state. In most of the states, 
there will still be a surplus of tax money, to come up 
to the seat of government, for the officers residing there. 
The payments of interest and salary in each state may 
be made by treasury orders on the state collector.— 
This will take up the greater part of the money he 


has collected in his state, and consequently, prevent the 
great mass of it from being drawn out of the state. — 
If there be a balance of commerce in favor of that state, 
against the one in which the government resides, the 
surplus of taxes will be remitted by the bills of ex- 
change drawn for that commercial balance. And so 
it must be if there were a bank. But if there be no 
balance of commerce, either direct or circuitous, all 
the banks in the world could not bring us the surplus 
of taxes but in the form of money. Treasury orders, 
then, and bills of exchange, may prevent the di^^place- 
ment of the main mass of the money collected, without 
the aid of any bank ; and where these fail, it cannot 
be prevented, even with that aid. 

Perhaps, indeed, bank bills may be a more convetuent 
vehicle than treasury orders. But a little d^erence 
in the degree of convenience, cannot constitute the ne- 
cessity which the constitution makes the ground for 
assuming any non-enumerated power. 

Besides, the existing I anks will, without doubt, en- 
ter into arrangements for lending their agency, and the 
more favorable, as there will be a competition among 
them for it; whereas this bill delivers us up bound to 
the national bank, who are free to refuse all arrange- 
ments but on their own terras, and the public' not free, 
on such refusal, to employ any other bank. That of 
Philadelphia, I believe, now does this business by their 
post notes, which, by an arrangement with the treasu- 
ry, are paid by any state collector to whom they are 
presented. This expedient alone, suffices to prevent 
the existence of that necessity which may justify the 
asfl^oiptioa of a noc-eauiaerated. power* aa a means tar 


oariyiDg into efiect an enumerated one. The thing 
may be done, and has been done, and well done, with- 
out this assumption ; therefore, it does not stand on 
that degree of neeesgitywhich can honestly justify it. 

It may be said, that a bank, whose bills would have 
a currency all oyer the states, would be more con. 
venient than one whose currency is limited to a single 
state. So it would be still more convenient, that ther^ 
should be a bank whose bills should have a currency 
all over the world. But it does not follow from this 
superior conveniency, that there exists any where a 
power to establish such a bank, or that the world may 
not go on very well without it. 

Can it be thought that the constitution intended, th^t 
for a shade or two, of convenience, more or less, Con- 
gress should be authorized to break down the most 
ancient and fundamental laws of the several states, 
such as those against mortmain, the laws of alienage, 
the rules of descent, the acts of distribution, the laws 
of escheat and forfeiture, and the laws of monopoly ? 
Nothing but a necessity invincible by any other means, 
can justify such a prostration of laws, which constitute 
the pillars of our whole system of jurisprudence. Will 
Congress be too striait-l^ced to carry the constitution 
into honest effect, unless they may pass over the foun- 
dation laws of the state governments for the slightest 
convenience to them ? 

The negative of the President is the shield provided 
by the con^itution to protect against the invasions of 
the legislature, 1, the rights of the Executive ; 2, of 
the judiciary ; 3, of the state and state legislatures. 
The present is th« case of a right remaining exchi- 

LIFE OF ifci-'l-'iiRSON. 205 

siveiy with the states, and is, consequently, one of those 
intended by the constitution to be placed under his 

It must be addedj however^ that unless the Presidebt'd 
mind, oh a view of every thing which is urgecl for and 
against this bill, is tolerably clear that it is unauthor- 
ized by the constitution, if the pro and the can hang so 
even as to balance his judgement, a just respect for the 
wisdom of the legislature would naturally decide the 
balance in favor of their opinion. It is chiefly for 
cases where they are clearly misled by error, ambition 
or interest, that the constifhtion has placed a check in 
the negative of the President." 

The opinions thus expressed, Mr. Jefferson ever 
after, invariably maintained. In a letter to Mr. Gal- 
latin, dated December 13, 1803, he thus expresses bia 
fears of the overpowering influence of this monopoly : 
" This institution is one of the most deadly hostility 
existing against the principles and form of our constitu« 
tion. The nation is, at this time, so strong and united in 
Its sentiments, that it cannot be shaken at this moment^ 
But suppose a series of untoward events should occur, 
sufficient to bring into doubt the competency of a re-, 
publican government to meet a crisis of great danger, 
or to unhinge the confidence of the people in the public 
functionaries; an institution like this, penetrating by 
its branches every part of the Union, acting by com- 
mand and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset 
the government. I deem no government safe which ia 
under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, 
or any other authority than that of the nation, or its 

regular functionaries. What an obstruction could not 



this bank of the United States, with all its branch 
banks, be in time of war ? It might dictate to us the 
peace we should acoept, or withdraw its aid. Ought 
we then to give furthef growth to an institution so 
powerful, so hostile ? That it is so hostile we know ; 
first, from a knowledge of the principles of the persons 
composing the body of the directors in every bank^ 
principal or branch, and those of most of the stock- 
holders ; second, from their opposition to the measures 
and principles of the government, and to the election 
of those friendly to them ; and, third, from the senti- 
ments of the newspapers tfley support. Now, while 
we are strong, it is the greatest duty we owe to the 
safety of our constitution, to bring this powerful enemy 
to a perfect subordination under its authorities. The 
first measure would be to reduce them to an equal foot- 
ing only with other banksj as to the favors of the 
government. But in order to be &ble to meet a general 
combination of the banks against us in a critical emer- 
gency, could we not make a beginning towards an in- 
dependent use of our own money, towards holding our 
own bank in all the deposites where it is received, and 
letting the Treasurer give his draft or note for payment 
at any particular place, which, in a well conducted 
government, ought to have as much credit as any pru 
vate draft, or bank note, or bill, and would give us the 
same facilities which we derive from the banks ? I 
pray you to turn this subject in your mind, and to give 
it the benefit of your knowledj^e of details ; whereas I 
have only very general views of the subject." 

The views of the Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. 
Hamilton) were equally decided io favor of the estab- 






lishmeDt. The President, after receiving tlieir opinions^ 
i¥eighing their reasons, and examining the subject, 
^ deliberately made up his mind in favor of the consti- 
tutionality of the law, and gave it the sanction of his 
name. This question, foj many years afterwards, agi^ 
tated the public mind, and divided the national coun- 
oils; yet the subsequent establishment of a national 
bank, with a capital of thirty-five millions, with the 
approbation and consent of those heretofore opposed to 
it on constitutional grounds, must rescue the names of 
the authors of the first bank from the reproach then 
cast upon them for a violation of the constitution. Yet 
none will regret that it was adopted with so much hes- 
itation, and that it led to so serious a discussion of the 
fundamental principles of our government. 

In this year, 1791, Mr. Hammond arrived in the 
United States as minister from Great Britain. Soon 
after his arrival, a correspondence commenced between 
him and Mr. Jefferson, as Secretary of State, on the 
subjects in controversy between the two countries, par- 
ticularly concerning the inexecution of the treaty of 
peace. The British minister having no authority to 
conclude a commercial treaty, the consideration of that 
subject was postponed. 

In answer to. the question put by the American Sec- 
retary as to the intentions of the British government 
in relation to the non-fulfilment of that article of the 
treaty of peace concerning the surrender of the western 
posts, the British minister said, that the execution of 
this article was suspended, in consequence of a breach 
of the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles, on the part of the 
United States^ and that in all their discussions and 


subsequent arrangements, these subjects could not be 
separated. It was agreed that each should state the 
particular acts done by the other, supposed to be in 
contravention of the treaty. Mr. Jefiferson commenced 
on the part of the American government, in December, 
1781, by repeating, that the garrisons had not^been 
withdrawn from the western posts, according to the 
stipulations in the seventh article ; that British officers 
had exercised jurisdiction over the country and inhab- 
itants belonging to the United States in the vicinity of 
these posts ; that American citizens had been excluded 
from the navigation of the great lakes ; and that, coa- 
trary to the same article, a great number of negroes, 
the property of the citizens of the United States, had 
been carried away at the time of the evacuation of the 
city of New York. 

The supposed infractions on the part of the United 
States, complained of by the British minister, were, 
1. Impediments to the collection of debts contracted 
before ^the date of the treaty, by the acts and proceed- 
ings of the several states. 2. The non-restitution of 
the estates of the royalists, confiscated during the war. 
3. The prosecution of the royalists, and the confisca- 
tion of their property, subsequent to the peace. 

A statement of these infractions was made by the 
British minister, in March, 1792, with a reference to 
the various acts of the states on these subjects. In 
May following, an answer to this was given by the 
American Secretary showing that, with respect to 
property confiscated by the individual states, the fiflh 
article merely stipulated that Congress should recom- 
mend to the legislatures of the several states, to provide 


^for its restitution. That Congress had done all in their 
power, and all they were bound by treaty to do, by 
recommending a compliance on the part of the states ; 
but that it was left with the states themselves to com- 
ply or not, as they might think proper, and that this 
was so understood by the British negotiators, and by 
the British ministry, at the time the treaty was com- 
pleted » He stated that no confiscations had taken place 
subsequent to the peace. He also claimed, that the 
first infractions were on the part of the British govern- 
ment, by withholding the western posts, and by the 
transportation of negroes; and that the delays and im- 
pediments which had taken place in the collection of 
British debts, were justifiable on that account. With 
respect to the allowance of interest on the debts, during 
the time the two countries were engaged in war, this he 
said, was a point much litigated in the courts, and in 
some states wete allowed, and in others disallowed. 

This answer of the British Secretary was transmitted 
to the British court by Mr. Hammond ; and the new 
state of things which soon after arose in Europe, pre-' 
vented a reply, or a renewal of the negotiations in 

The arrival of citizen Genet in this country as min- 
ister from France — his contumacious behavior while 
here — his arming vessels in our ports, and enlisting 
American citizens to cruise against nations with whom 
the United States were at peace and in amity — his 
claiming a general admiralty jurisdiction, and assum- 
ing to try the validity of prizes within our territo- 
ry— his exercising other acts of the highest sovereign- 

ty within the same — his projecting a hostile expedi- 



tion from South Carolina and Greorgia against the 
Floridas, and another against New Orleans and Loui- 
siana from the state of Kentucky — his insulting and 
insolent communication to the President — his threaten- 
ed appeal to the public — ^the solicitation for his dis- 
missal, and his final recall ; — are facts too notorious for 
detail, and belong rather to the political history of the 
United States than to this brief biography. Those 
desirous of full and explicit information on these inter- 
esting subjects, can be gratified, by consulting the 
"American State Papers" published under the inspec- 
tion of Congress. Suffice it for us to say, that in all 
these transactions, Mr. Jefferson maintained the digni- 
ty of government with firmness and discretion; repell- 
ed the sophistry of the Frenchman with success ; and 
the language and conduct he had used in his inter, 
coarse with the American government, and the un- 
warrantable expressions in which he had indulged 
when speaking of the illustrious man at its head, were 
treated with indignation or contempt. The spirit of 
► friendship for the nation was carefully preserved, while 
the unauthorized aggressions of its agent were resisted, 
and his insinuations repelled and denied. 

It may not be improper here to add, that Mr. Genet 
being recalled, his place was supplied by a successor, 
Mr. Fauchet, who arrived in the United States in Feb- 
ruary, 1794. 

The Brissotine party -in France, which • sent Mr. 
Grenet to America, had been supplanted by that of 
Robespierre ; many of the Brissotines were sent to the 
guillotine ; and there can be no doubt, that Genet him. 
self was doomed to the same fate. His successor had 


special orders to send him back to France, and for 
this purpose to use force if necessary. 

Fauchet, therefore, immediately after his arrival, 
finding that Mr. Grenet did not intend to return, but 
was rather inclined to stay where he was, requested 
liberty to arrest and send him back, agreeably to iiis ki- 
«truetions. This. was refused by the President. Still 
desirous of efiecting his object, he inquired whether the 
Executive would oppose his decoying him on board of 
a French vessel, under the pretence of honoring him 
with an entertainment, and then sailing with him for 
France. The President not only refused to wink at 
this clandestine mode of proceeding, but declared he 
would resist it, if necessary, by force. By this up- 
right ai\d impartial conduct, the President, no doubt, 
saved Mr. Genet from the guillotine.* 

in January, 1794, Mr. Jefferson resigned the office 
•f Secretary ef State, and was succeeded by Mr. Ran- 
dolph. He resigned, with an intention of never again 
resuming any public office. " For as to myself," says 
he, in a letter to Mr. Madison, " the subject has been 
thoroughly weighed and decided on, and my retire* 
ment from office has been meant from all office, high 
or low, without exception. My health is entirely bro- 
ken down within the last eight months ; my age re- 
quires that I should place my affiiirs in a clear state ; 
these are sound if taken care of, but capable of con- 
siderable dangers if long neglected; and above all 
things, the delights I feel in the society of my family, 
and in the agricultural pursuits in which I am so ea< 

* Pitkin's United States, 2d vol. 417. 

dl2 LIFfi OF JEFf'EliSON. 

gerly engaged. The little spice of ambition which I 
had in my younger days has long since evaporated, and 
I set still less store by a posthumous than present name. 
In stating to you the heads of reasons which have pro- 
duced my determination, I do not mean an opening for 
future discussion, or that I may be reasoned out of it. 
The question is for ever closed with me." 

The whole time of Mr. Jefierspn was now devoted 
to the education of his family, the cultivation of bis 
estate, the intercourse of friendship, and thiB pursuit of 
those philosophical studies which he had so long abaii- 
doned, but to which he now returned with revived ardor. 
In the retirement of his closet, and amid such employ- 
ments, the biographer has but little to relate, and detail 
would be monotonous to the reader; yet, perhaps, we 
1^ ill be pardoned for introducing the remarks of two 
distinguished French travellers, who visited him at 
difierent times, and enjoyed his privacy. " His con- 
versation,'' says the Duke de Liancourt, who visited 
Monticello in '94, << is of the most agreeable kind, and 
he possesses a stock of information not inferior to that 
of any other man. In Europe he would hold a dis* 
tinguished rank among men of letters, and as such be 
has already appeared there. At present he is employ- 
ed with activity in the management of his farms and 
'buildings, and he ordersHii]*®^^^^) ^"^ pursues, in the 
minutest detail, every branclT ijf ^^siness relating to 
&em. The author of this sketch 011^ ^^™ in ^^ 
midst of harvest, from which the scorcM^S ^^^^ ^^ 
the sun does not prevent his attendance. HiS4lfK^^' 
are nourished, clothed, and treated as well as C^^^^ 
servants could be. As he cannot expect any asststa 


from the two small neighboring towns, every article 
is made on his farm ; his negroes are cabinet makers, 
carpenters, masons, bricklayers, &;c. The children he 
employs in a nail manufactory, which yields already 
a considerable profit. The young and old negresses 
spin for the clothing of ihe rest. He animates them 
by rewards and distinctions; in fine, his anperior 
mind directs the management of his domestic con- 
cerns with the same ability, activity, and regularity, 
which he evinced in the conduct of public affairs, and 
which he is calculated to display in every situation of 

Twelve years before this, he had made the same im» 
pression on the Marquis de Chastellux, a Major General 
in the French army, and who had come to this country 
with Lieutenant General Count Rochambeau. '^ The 
conversation," writes the Marquis, << continued, and 
brought us insensibly to the foot of the mountains. On 
the summit of one of them we discovered the house of 
Mr. Jefferson, which stands pre-eminent in these retire* 
ments ; it was himself who built it, and preferred this 
situation ; for although he possessed considerable prop- 
erty in the neighborhood, there was nothing to prevent 
him from fixing his residence whereever he thought 
proper. But it was a debt nature owed to a philo- 
sopher and a man of tadte, that in his own posses, 
sions be should find a spot where he^ might best study 
and enjoy her. He calls his house Monticello, (in 
Italian, Little Mountain,) a very modest title, for it is 
situated upon a very lofty one, but which announces 
the owner's attachment to the language of Italy ; and 
above all, to the fine arts, of which that country was 



the cradle, and is still the asylum. After ascending by 
a tolerable commodious road for more than half an 
hour, we arrived at Monticello. This house, of which 
Mr. Jefferson was the architect, and often one of the 
workmen, is rather elegant, and in the Italian taste, 
though not without a fault : it consists of one large 
square pavilion, the entrance of which is by two porti- 
coes ornamented with pillars. The ground floor con- 
sists chiefly of a very large, lofty saloon, which is to be 
decorated entirely in the antique style ; above it is a 
library of the same fbrm ; two small wings, with only 
a ground floor, and attic story, are joined to this pa- 
vilion, and communicate with the kitchen, offices, &c. 
which will form a kind of basement story, over which 
runs a terrace. My object in this short description is 
only to show the difference between this and the other 
houses of the country ; for we may safely aver, that 
Mr. J^BIerson is the first American who has courted 
the fine arts to know how he should shelter himself 
from the weather. But it is on himself alone I ought 
to bestow my time. Let me describe to you a man, 
not yet forty, tall, and with a mild and pleasing coun- 
tenance, but whose mind and understanding are ample 
substitutes for every exterior grace. An American , 
who, without ever having quitted his own country, is 
at once a musician, skilled in drawing, a geometrician, 
an astronomer, a natural philosopher, legislator, and 
statesman. A Senator. of America, who sat for two 
years in that famous Congress which brought about 
the revolution ; a Governor of Virginia, who filled 
this difficult station during the invasions of Arnold, 
of Phillips, and of Cornwallisf a philosopher, in yo}- 


iintary retirement from the world and public busioess, 
inasmuch only as he can flatter himself with being 
useful to mankind. A mild and amiable wife, charm- 
ing children, of whose educatioa he himself takes 
charge, a house to embellish, great provisions to im- 
prove, and the arts and sciencea to cultivate, these are 
what remain to Mr. Jefferson, after having played e^ 
principal character oii the theatre of the new world, 
and which he preferred to the honorable commission 
of Minister Plenipotentiary in Europe. The visit 
which I made him was not unexpected, for he had long 
since invited me to come and pass a few days with 
him, in the centre of the mountains ; notwithstanding 
which, I found his first appearance serious, nay, even 
cold ; but before I had been two hours with him, we 
were as intimate as if we had passed our whole lives 
together ; walking, books, but above all, a iconversation 
always varied and interesting, made four days pass 
away like so many minutes. Sometimes natural phi- 
losophy, at others, politico, or the arts, were the topics 
of our conversation, for no object had escaped Mr. 
Jefferson ; and it seemed as if from his youth he had 
placed his mind, as he had done his house, on an ele- 
vated situation, from which he might contemplate the 

From this retirement, Mr. Jefferson writes to Mr. 
Xriles, April 27, 1795, "I shall be rendered very happy 
by the visit you promise me. The only thing wanting 
to make me completely so, is the more frequent society 
of ray friends. It is the more wanting, as I am become 
the more firmly fixed to the glebe. If you visit me as 
a fanner, it r^vfl^ l^ as a oondisciple, for I am but a 


learner; an eager one, indeed, but yet desperate, being 
too old now to learn a new art. However, I am as 
inach delighted and occupied with it as if I was the 
greatest adept. I shall talk with you about it from 
rooming till B%lit, and pot yon on tery short allow. 
anoe as to political aliment. Now and then a pious 
ejaculation for the French and Dutch republicans, re- 
turning with due despatch to. clover, potatoes, wheat, 

But the situation of the country and the desires of 
many, warmly expressed, did not permit Mr. Jefferson 
long to enjoy the pleasures of a private life ; and he 
was drawn most reluctantly from his retirement. Gen- 
eral Washington had, for some time, contemplated a 
retirement from office, and in his farewell address to 
the pec^le of the United States, he had, in the month 
of September, 1796, declined being considered any 
longer a candidate for it. Th& person in whom alone 
the voice of the whole nation could be united, having 
thus withdrawn, the two great parties, in which the 
country was then divided, respectfully brought forward 
their chiel^. Mr. Jefferson was supported by the one, 
Mr. Adams by the other. " The first wish of my 
heart/' says the fbrmer, in a letter to Mr. Madison, 
" was, that you should have been proposed for the ad- 
ministration of the government. On your declining 
it, I wish any body rather than myself; and there is 
nothing that I so anxiously hope» as that my name 
may come out either second or third. These would 
be indifiertot to me ; as the last would leave, me at 
hozae the whole yeat^ and the other two thirds of it. 
It seems also pbsisible, that the Repree^ntatives may 


be divided. This is a difficulty from which the consti- 
tution has provided no issue. It is both my duty and 
inclination, therefore, to relieve the embarrassment, 
should it happen ; and in that case, I pray you and au- 
thorize you fully, to solicit on my behalf, that Mr. Adams 
may be preferred. He has always been my senior, 
from the commencement of our public life, and the ex* 
pression of the public will being equal, this circum- 
stance ought to give him the preference. And when so 
many motives will be operating to induce some of the 
members to change their Vote, the addition of my wish 
may have some effect to preponderate the scale." 

In February, the votes for the first and second ma- 
gistrates of the Union were opened and counted in the 
presence of both houses; and the highest number ap- 
pearing in favor of Mr. Adams, and the second in 
favor of Mr. Jefferson, the iirst was declared to be 
President, and the second the Vice President of the 
United States for four years, to commence on the fourth 
day of the ensuing March. 

Most of the four succeeding years was passed tran. 
quilly by Mr. Jefferson, in his favorite retreat at Mon- 
ticello. During this period, we find but little notice of 
him among the public records of the day, and conse- 
quently not much to communicate to the reader. 

The following extract from one of his letters written 
at this time, and in which he frankly and explicitly 
exhibits his political principles, feelings, and attach- 
ments, may not be entirely uninteresting: " I do, then, 
with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of 
our present federal constitution, according to the true 
sense in which It was ^depted by. the •tatea, thatio 

ti[6 Ltps 01^ iztrrtnsoX 

which it was advocated by its friends, and not that 
which its enemies apprehended, who, therefore, became 
its enemies: and I am opposed to the monarchizing its 
features by the forms of its administration, with a 
view to conciliate a first transition to a President and 
Senate for life, and from that to a hereditary tenure of 
these offices, and thus to worm out the elective princi- 
ple. I am for preserving to the states the powers not 
yielded by them to the Union ; and to the legislature of 
the Union its constitutional share in the division of 
powers J and t am not for transferring all the powers of 
the states to the general government, and all those of that 
government to the Executive branch. I am for a gov* 
ernment rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the 
possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge 
of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of ofi:. 
cers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for 
increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the 
principle of its being a public blessing. I am for 
rel^'ing, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till 
actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may 
protect our coast and harbors from such depredations 
as we have experienced ; and not for a standing army 
in time of peace, which may overawe the public sen- 
timent; nor far a navy which, by its own expense, and 
the eternal wars into which it will implicate us, will 
grind us with public burdens, and sink us under them. 
I am for free commerce wi.h all nations; political con- 
nexion with none; and little or no diplomatic eslab- 
lishment; and I am not for linking ourselves by new 
treaties witli the quarrels of Europe , entering that field 
af daughter to preserve their balauMr <^r jiuning in 

LIFE or JEFFER80If« 219 


the confederacy of kings to war against the principles 
of liberty. I am for freedom of religion, and against 
all manoeuvres to bring about a legal ascendency of 
one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and 
against all violations of tfje constitution to silence 
by force, and not by reason, the complaints or criti- 
cisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the con* 
duct of their agents. And I am for encouraging the 
progress of science in all its branches; and not for 
raising a hue and cry against the sacred name of phi- 
losophy; for awing the human, mind by stories of raw- 
head and bloody-bones to a dHstrust of i^s own vision, 
and to repose implicitly on that of others; to go back- 
wards instead of forwards to look for improveaient ; 
to believe that government, religion, morality, and eve- 
ry other science were in their highest perfection in the 
ages of the darkest ignorance, and that nothing can ever 
be devised more perfect than what was established by 
our forefathers. To these I will add, that I was a sin- 
cere well-wisher to the success of ihe French revolu* 
tion, and still wish it may end in the establishment of 
a free and well-ordered republic; but I have not been 
insensible under the atrocious depredations they have 
committed on our commerce. The first object of my 
heart is my own country. In that is embarked my 
family, my fortune, and my own existence. I have 
not one farthing of interest, nor one fibre of attachment 
out of it, nor a single motive of preference of any one 
nation to another, but in proportion as they are more 
or less friendly to us." 

But a new election was now approaching, and the 
hopes and Irishes of the republican party were again 


fixed upon Mr. Jefferson. At this time party divisions 
were drawn to a strong and inseparable line, and were 
particularly distinguishe^l by virulence and acrimony. 
They rested, in a great measure, upon points of foreign 
policy, and on foreign predilections or aversions. Mr. 
Adams had been re ndered^jun popular by his apparent 
apathy towards the French revolution, and by the 
charges repeatedly made, that himself and party were 
favorably inclined towards Great Britain. The ex- 
penditure of money under his administration, for build- 
ing a navy, and for other purposes, was thought by 
many to have been impolitic, or useless ; and the enact- 
ment of an alien law, by which the President was author- 
ized to compel suspected foreigners to leave the country ; 
and of the sedition law, which provided that the authors 
and publishers of false and malicious accusations^gainst 
the President and members of Congress should be pro- 
secuted and criminally punished, was loudly and vehe- 
mently condemned. Under the sedition law, several 
persons, and those of considerable notoriety on the 
political arena, had already been imprisoned. The 
sympathies of the people were awakened in their behalf, 
and inflammatory writers had aroused their passions 
and incited their indignation against those at whose 
instance they were confined. The federalists support- 
ed Mr. Adams and General Pinckney ; the republicans, 
Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr; and both parties being 
animated by the prospect of success, the contest was 
maintained with uncommon ardor. 

But a most untoward and unlocked for event now oc- 
curred. By the constitution, as it existed at that period, 
each elector voted for two men without designating 


wiiich was to be President ; "and he who obtained the 
greatest number of votes was to be President, and the 
nearest to him Vice President, Mr. Jefferson and Col- 
onel Burr bad an equal number of votes, and the elec- 
tiun, according to the constitution, was to be decided 
by the House of Representatives. Here it also most 
singularly occurred, that the states were, for a long 
time, equally divided ; and hopes were expressed by 
his friends, and fears reluctantly admitted by his op- 
ponents, that Mr. Burr would be elected to the office of 
President. Week after week were the people kept ia 
intense solicitude, while the contest was thus main- 
tained ; again and again the voting went round, and 
the result continued the same; and every exertion was 
xnade to raise to the highest office of the nation, a man 
who had not received for that purpose a solitary vote 
of the people^ The time limited by the constitution 
for the election of a President had nearly arrived, and 
there was danger that government must come to a . 
pause, or be resolved into its original elements. At 
length, after thirty-five ineffectual ballots, one of the 
representatives of the state of Maryland made public 
the contents of a letter to himself, written by Mr. Burr, 
in which he declined all pretensions to the Presidency, 
and authorized him to disclaim, in his name, any com- 
petition with Mr. Jefferson. On this specific declara- 
tion, two federal members, who represented the states 
which had heretofore voted blank, withdrew, and per- 
mitted the republican members from those states to 
become a majority. Consequently, on the thirty-sixth 
balloting, Mr. Jefferson was elected President, and Col- 
onel Burr became, of course, Vice President; 


322 Lii^tt or jBPFEnsM. 

On the fourth of March, 1801, he took the oath of 
office, and was inaugurated President of the United 
States. In December ensuing, he sent his first message 
to the national legislature. On this occasion he de- 
parted from the practice which had hitherto prevailed, 
and instead of personally delivering a speech to the 
two houses of Congress, he transmitted to them a 
written message, which was first read by the Senate, 
and then sent to the House of Representatives. The 
example thus set, has since been followed by every suc- 
cessive Executive. This message increased the repu* 
tation of Mr. Jefferson, and was worthy of the pen 
which drafted the Declaration of Independence. It 
has often been referred to as containing the manual 
of democracy, and the theoretical outlines of a free 
government. We s haH ^k tti 'e introduce it, not only as 
a specimen of composition which does honor to the 
writer, but as exhibiting the liberal and patriotic prin- 
ciples of the man. 

Friends and fellow citizens t 

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive 
oMce of our cotlntry, t avail myself of the presence of that 
portion of my fellow citizens which is here assembled, to e^. 
press my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have 
been pleased to look towards me; to declare a sincere con. 
sciousness, that the task is above my talents, and that I ap. 
proach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which 
the greatness of the charge, and the weakness of my powers, so 
justly inspirci A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful 
iand^-«tra versing all the seas with the rich productions of their 
industry— engaged in commerce with nations who feel power 
and forget right — advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the 
reach of mortal eye— when I contemplate these transcendent 
objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of 
this bclovod country, committed to the issue and the auspices of 
this day, I shrink ftom the contemplation, and humble myself 
before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed* 
«boQld I despair, did not the presenee of many, whom I here 

Lir& ot jfiFFXRsoN* 223 

see, reitaind rao, that in the other high ftuthorities provided by 
our constitution, I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, 
and of zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, 
then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions 
of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with 
encouragement for that guidance and support which may 
enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all cm. 
barked, amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world. 

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, 
the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes 
worn an aspect which might impose on strangers, unused to 
think freely, and to speak and to write what they think ; but this 
being now decided by the voice of the nation, atinounced ac. 
cording to the rules of the constitution, all will of course, ar. 
range themselves under the will of the law, and unite in com. 
mon efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind 
this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is, in 
all cases, to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable — 
that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws 
must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us then, 
fellow citizens, unite with ono heart and one mind. Let us 
restore to social intercourse, that harmony and affection with. 
out which liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things*; 
and let us reflect, that, having banished from our land that reli. 
giouB intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suf. 
lered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance a political 
intolerance, as despotic as wicked, and capable of as bitter and 
bloody persecutions. 

During the throes and convulsions of the ancient worlds- 
during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking, through 
blood and slaughter, his long lost liberty — it was not won» 
dcrful that the agitation of the billows should reach even 
this distant and peaceful shore— that this should be more felt 
and feared by some, ' and less by others — and should divide 
opinions as to measures of safety. But every dijSercnce of opin. 
ion is not a difR;rcncc of principle. We have called by differ* 
ent names, brethren of the same principle. We are all Re. 
PUBLICANS ; WE ARE ALL FEDERALISTS. If therc be any among us 
who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its repub. 
lican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the 
safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where 
reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some 
honest men fear that a republican government cannot be 
strong — that this government is not strong enough. But would 
the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, 
abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, 
on the theoretic and visionary fear, that this government, the 
world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve 
itself 7 I tract not. I belisre tbia, on the contrary, the ■tronf. 


est goremmeni on earth , I believe it thb ont j one, whe^c every 
man, at t!ie call of the law. would, fly to the 8tandard of the law, 
and would meet invasions of ihc public order as his -own personal 
concern. Sonietinies it is said, that man cannot be trusied with 
the government ttf himself: can he liicn be trusted with the 
government of others 7 or have wu found angels, in the foria of 
kingd, to govern him ? Let history answer this question. 

L3tus, then, with conrage and confidence, pursue our own fed. 
oral and repablican principles — oar attachment to anion and rep. 
resentative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide 
o3jaa, from the eiterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe, 
too hi^h.minded to endure the degradations of the others — pos. 
■essing a chosen count'-y, with room enough for our descendants 
to the thousandth and thousandth generatiim— entertaining a due 
sense of our equil right to the use of our own faculties — ^to the 
acquisitions of our own industry — to honor and confidence from 
our follow citizens; resulting not from birth, but from our actions, 
anj their sense of them-— jii lightened by a benign leligion, pro. 
fe^sod, indeed, and practised in various forms, yet all of thcin in. 
cutciting honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of 
mm — icknowlelging and adoring an overruling Providence, 
whicli, by all its disp.msations, proves that it delights in the hap. 
piaess of m m here, and his greater happiness hcreafter^-^with aili . 
these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and 
prosperous people? — Still one thing m ire, fellow citizens, a wise 
ani frugit government, which shall restrain men from injuring 
onj ariotliur; shall leave them otherwise free to regulate ihfir 
own pursuits of industry and improvement; and shall not take 
fro n thj mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the 
•um of g()a i government: and this is necessary to close ihe cir. 
c e of our felic ties. 

Aiiut to enter, fellow citizens, on the exercise of dut'.es 
which cOiDprehend every thing dear and valuable to you, it is 
prop;ir you should underslanJ what I deem the essential prin. 
clples of uur government, and consequently those which ought 
to shipe its aiministration. I will compress them within the 
narrowest eompiss they will hear, stating the general principle, 
but not all its li.nitatioas. E |uil and exact justice to all men 
of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political — peace, 
cj u n3rc3, and honest frienJsiiip with all nations — entangling 
alliaac34 with none — the support of the state governments in 
all thjtr rights, as the m^st competent administrations for our 
do nestic concoms, and the surest bulwarks against antLrepub. 
lici'i tsnJencies — the preservation of the general governuient 
in its whole constitutional vi;^or, as the sheet anchor of oar 
p3ac3 at horn 3, and safety abroad — x jealous care of the right 
of election by the people — x mild and safe corrective of abu- 
•38, which are lopped by the sword of revolution, whore psaoe. 
able remadies arc unprovided-^absolute aoquiesQen^o in the 
decisions of the majority, the vital principle ^f j:epabUci» 



from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and 
immediate -parent of despotism— a well disciplined militia, our 
best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till 
regulars may relieve them — ^the supremacy of the civil over 
the military authority — economy in the public expense, that la. 
hour may be lightly burdened^ the honest payment of our debts, 
and sacred preservation of public faith-— encouragement of agri- 
culture, and of commerce, as its handmaid — the diffusion of 
information, and arrangement of all abuses at the bar of the 
poblic reason — ^freedom of religion — ^freedom of the press — 
and freedom of person, under the protection of the habeas cor- 
pus, and trials by juries impartially selected. These principles 
form the bright constellation, which has gone before us, and 
ffuided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. 
The wisdom of our sages, and blood of our heroes, have been 
devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our 
political faith — the text of civic instruction — the touchstone by 
which to try the services of those we trust ; and should we wan. 
der from them, in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten ' to 
retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to 
peace, liberty, and safety. 

I repair, then, fellow citizens, to the post you have assigned 
me. With experience enough in subordinate offices,- to have 
seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learned to 
expect, that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man, to 
retire from this station with the reputation, and the favor, 
which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high con. 
fidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary char, 
aeter, whose pre-eminent services had entitled him to the first 
place in his country's love, and destined for him the fairest page 
in the volume of .faithful history, I ask so much confidence only, 
VLB may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of 
your affairs. I shall often go wrong,- through defect of judge. 
ment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong, by thoso 
whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. 
I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be 
intentional; and your support against the errors of others, who 
may condemn what they would not, if seen in all its parts. The 
approbation implied by your suffrage, is a great consolation to 
me for the past ; and my future solicitude will be, to retain the 
good opinion of those, who have bestowed it in advance, to con. 
oiliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, 
and to bo instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all. 

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance 
•with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever 
you become sensible how much belter choices it is in your power 
to make. And may that infinite power, which rules the destinies 
of the universe, lead our councils to what is b« st, and, give 
them a favorable issue for our peace and prosperity. 



It would not be consistent with the brevity of these 
memoirs, nor interesting to the reader, to enter into the 
details of Mr. Jefferson's administration. All the facts 
are recent, and the principal ones well known. Neither, 
perhaps, would it be proper. The transactions of his 
administration, which excited so much feeling, have 
not yet reached the moment when they may become 
subjects for dispassionate investigation. They have 
not yet parted with the heat which the excited spirit of 
the period gave them. 

The greatest measure of Mr. Jefferson's first admin- 
istration was the acquisition of Louisiana. He early 
became convinced of the absolute necessity of obtain- 
ing this territory. " Whilst the prosperity and sove- 
reignly, of the Mississippi and its waters" — we use his 
own language — *' secured an independent outlet for the 
produce of the western states, and an uncontrolled navi- 
gation through their whole course, free from collision 
with other powers, and the dangers to our peace from 
that source, the fertility of the country, its climate and 
extent, promise, in due season, important aids to our 
treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a 
wide spread for the blessings of freedom and equal 
laws." This was the most important acquisition ever 
made by our country. The territory acquired inclu- 
ded all the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi, and 
more than doubled the area of the United States; while 
the new part was not inferior to the old in soil, cli- 
mate, productions, and important communications.—* 
And while the Canadas have been haunting the Bri- 
lish Parliament for seventy years, like ^ wratfif^H 
ghost, constantly harassed with a legislatiqa that never 

satisfies them, overwhelmed with favors that do iiot 
propitiate, and taunte 1 with concessions Which are as 
grateful to a.proud colony, as alms-bread is to a proud 
man, Louisiana has sprung up at once into an affec- 
tionate, congenial member of the confederacv. The 
sum of fifteen millions of dollars was the price paid 
for this acquisition ; and on the twentieth of Decem- 
her, 1803, it was formally surrendered to the United 
States by the commissioner of France. 

The period for a new election was now approaching, 
and so much had Mr. Jefferson's popularity increased 
during his administration, that he was elevated a second 
time to the Presi -ency, by a majority which had risen 
from eight votes to one hundred and forty-eight. The 
venerable George Clinton of the state of New York 
was, at the same time, chosen Vice President; and 
both, according to custom, were sworn into office on 
the fourth of March, 1805. 

Mr, Jefferson entered upon the arduous duties of his 
lofty station, deeply impressed with the confidence re- 
posed in him by his fellow citizens ; and he asserted 
his determination, as he believed it to be his duty, to 
be guided solely by those principles which had thus 
been sanctioned by the unequivocal approbation of his 
country. " I do not fear," he said, " that any motives 
of interest may lead me astray ; 1 am sensible of no 
passion which would seduce me knowingly from the 
path of justice; but the weaknesses of human nature, 
and the limits of my own understanding, will produce 
errors of judgement, sometimes injurious to your inter- 
ests : I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence I have 
bereto&re esperiehoed-<«»the want of it will certainly not 


lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the 
favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led 
our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, 
and planted them in a country flowing with all the 
necessaries and comforts of life ; who has covered our 
infancy with his providence, and our riper years with 
his wisdom and power." 

Almost immediately after the election of Mr. Jefier- 
son, the conduct of Colonel Burr hegan to attract the 
vigilant eye of the chief magistrate. This gentleman, 
notwithstanding his former services, and his undoubted 
talents, had subjected himself to merited obloquy. He 
bad long been discarded by the republicans, and a 
duel with General Hamilton, which terminated fatally 
to the latter, had rendered him an object of abhorrence 
to the federalists, and degraded him in the eyes of the 
Union. Thus situated, soured by disappointments, 
and denied the confidence of his fellow citizens, he had 
retired into the western states, a stricken, and, as he 
conceived, an injured man. In the autumn of 1806, 
his mysterious movements attracted ihe attention of 
government. He had purchased and was building 
boats on the Ohio, and engaging men to descend that 
river. His declared purpose was to forni a settlement 
on the banks of the Wachita, in Louisiana ; but the 
character of the man, the nature of his preparations, 
and the incautious disclosures of his associates, led to 
the suspicion that his true object was either to gain pos« 
session of New Orleans, and erect into a separate gov- 
ernment the country watered by the Mississippi and 
its branches, or to invade, from the territories of the 
United States, the rich Spanish prpvince of Mexico, 


But whatever may have ^been the ultimate object of 
his plans, no sooner had Mr. Jefferson received infor- 
mation that a number of private individuals were com- 
bining together, arming and organizing themselves 
contrary to law, with the avowed object of carrying 
on some military expedition, against the territories of 
Spain, than he took immediate measures to arrest and 
bring to justice its authors and abettors. Colonel fiurr, 
finding his scheme thus discovered and defeated, and 
hearing, at the same time» that several persons suspect- 
ed of being his accomplices had been arrested, fled in 
disguise from Natchez, and was apprehended on the 
Tombigbee. Two indictments were found against him, 
one charging him with treason against the United 
States, the other with preparing and commencing an 
expedition against the dominions of Spain. He was 
bound over to take his trial on the last charge alone, 
the Chief Justice thinking there was not sufficient evi- 
dence of an overt act in the former. On the 17th of 
August, 1807, be was brought to trial before Judge 
Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States. The 
assemblage of individuals was fully proved; but there 
was not sufficient legal evidence to establish the pres- 
ence of Colonel Burr, or the use of any force against 
the authority of the United States, and the consequence 
was, an acquittal by the jury. The people, however, 
believed him guilty, and in this opinion the President 
largely shared. 

The wars produced by the French revolution still 
continued to agitate and convulse the whole of Eu- 
rope. While, on the one hand, the kings of the earth 

were repelled from the soil of France, and forced, by 



the genius of one man, to summon every resource, and 
exert every skill, for the preservation of their own do^ 
minions ; on the other, the navy of England traversed 
the ocean unrestrained, and rode triumphant on every 
sea. In the fierce animosity .of these two great belli- 
gerents, the rights of the unoffending neutral were but 
little respected. And few ships were found on the 
ocean except those of the United States and Great 
Britain. " The latter," says a clear, comprehensive, 
and classical writer, "having always found it impossi- 
ble to man her numerous fleets by volunteer enlistments, 
had been* accustomed to resort to impressment, or seiz- 
ing by force her subjects and compelling them to serve 
as sailors on board her ships of war. Soon after the 
peace of 1783, she claimed a right to search for and 
seize them, even on board of neutral vessels while 
traversing the ocean. In the exercise of this pretended 
right, citizens of the United States, sometimes by mis- 
take and sometimes by design, were seized, dragged 
from their friends, transported to distant parts of the 
world, compelled to perform the degrading duty of 
British sailors, and to fight with nations at peace with 
their own. Against this outrage upon personal liber- 
ty, and the rights of American citizens, Washington, 
Adams; and Jefferson had remonstrated in vain. The 
abuse continued, and every year added to its enormity, 
until a feeling of resentment was aroused worthy the 
best period of the Roman republic. But not in this 
mode only were the rights of the United States invaded 
and their interest sacrificed on the ocean. The carry- 
ing trade aflfcrded a harvest too rich and too tempting 
to British cupidity to be long enjoyed unmolested. 


American ships carrying to Europe the produce of 
French colonies, were, in an early stage of the war, 
captured by British cruisers, and condemned by their 
courts as lawful prizes. Several European ports under 
the control of France were declared by British orders 
in council, dated in May, 1806, to be in a state of block- 
ade, althougli not invested with a British fleet, and 
American vessels attempting to enter those ports, were 
also captured and condemned. France and her allies 
suffered, as well as the United States, from these trans- 
gressions against the laws of nations. And her ven- 
geance fell, not so much upon the belligerent inflicting 
the injury, as upon the neutral enduiing without re- 
senting and repelling it. By a decree issued nt Berlin, 
in November, 1806, the French Emperor declared the 
British islands in a state of blockade, and of course 
authorized the capture of all neutral vessels attempting 
to trade with those islands. From these measures of 
both nations, the commerce of the United States suffered 
severely, and their merchants loudly demanded redress 
and protection. 

"Bonaparte having declared his purpose of enforcing 
with rigor the Berlin decree, and the British govern- 
ment having solemnly asserted the right of search and 
impressment, and having intimated their intention to 
adopt measures in retaliation of the French decree, 
Mr. Jefferson recommended to Congress that the sea- 
men, ships and merchandise should be detained in port 
to preserve them from the dangers which threatened 
them on the ocean . A law laying an indefinite embargo 
was in consequence enacted. A hope to coerce the 
belligerent powers to return to the observance of the 

232 LIFft OP J£PP£R80N. 

laws of nations, by depriving them of the benefits de- 
rived from the trade of America, was doubtless a con- 
curring (and perhaps the strongest) motive for passing 
the law." 

This enactment, at the time of its passage, was receiv- 
ed by many with clamor and discontent, and ihe distress 
which the people endured from its operation was un- 
mitigated and severe. But the wisdom of the measure 
was shortly manifested, and before a year had expired, 
overtures were made by the British government which 
indicated a disposition to recede from or meliorate their 
tyrannical edicts. These overtures were succeeded by 
negotiations, which finally terminated in a repeal of 
the most objectionable features of the orders in council. 

The period had now arrived, when Mn Jefferson 
was to enjoy that retirement and philosophic ease 
which he had so long coveted, and to which he was 
so ardently attached. Public employment, and ofiice, 
had never been his choice, and nothing but duty to his 
country had ever drawn him from the retreats of Mon- 
ticello. Believing that no person should hold the 
office of chief magistrate longer than eight years, he 
had previously announced his intention that, when his 
service had completed the stipulated term, he should 
retire to private life. He had now reached the age of 
sixty-five years, forty of which had been employed in 
the arduous duties of public life. No one had served 
the country with more industry, zeal, and benefit, and 
no one had sacrificed more personal comfort for that 
purpose; and he now retired from the «* scene of his 
glory," before age had dimmed his eye, or impaired his 
usefulness. He relinquished his high and honorable 


station, carrying with him the best wishes of all, and 
knowing at the same time that his name w&s associated 
with the most interesting events in the history of his 
country, and there was awarded to him unsullied fame 
and distinguished reputation. His parting language 
to Congress was as follows : 

"Availing myself of this, the last occasion which 
will occur of addressing the two houses of the legisla- 
ture at their meeting,. I cannot omit the expression of 
my sincere gratitude, for the repeated proofs of confi- 
dence manifested to me by themselves and their prede- 
cessors, since my call to the administration, and the 
many indulgences experienced at their hands. The 
same grateful acknowledgments are due to my fellow 
citizens general ly^ whose support has been my great 
encouragement under all embarrassments. In the 
transaction of their business, I cannot have escaped 
error. It is incident to our imperfect nature. But I 
may say with truth, my errors have been of the under- 
standing, not of intention ; and that the advancement 
of their rights and interests has been the constant 
motive of every measure. On these considerations, I 
solicit their indulgence. Looking forward with anxiety 
to their future destinies, I trust, that in their steady 
character, unshaken by difficulties, in their love of 
liberty, obedience to law, and support of public au- 
thorities, I see a sure guarantee of the permanence of 
our republic; and retiring from the charge of their 
affairs, I carry with me the consolation of a firm per- 
suasion, that Heaven has in store for our beloved 
country, long ages to come of prosperity and happi- 





From this period^ with the exception of excursions 
which business required, Mr. JelSersoo passed the rest 
of his life altogether at Monticello; which was a con« 
tinued scene of the blandest and most liberal hospital- 
ity. Into this retirement of his domestic life we can* 
not penetrate, unless through the medium of his cor* 
respondence. Of this, fortunately, we are left in pos- 
session, and there is a charm and interest thrown about 
his letters written at this time, which amply compensate 
for their perusal. There is in them, said a competent 
judge, after their perusal, so much remembrance of 
the labors and excitements of earlier days ; so much 
living over past times in the pleasant and somewhat 
pensive garrulity of age ; so much clinging after old 
affections not yet chilled, and gathering again around 
him what had been casually dropped in the bustling 
journey of life ; such ardent desires to retain the attach- 
ments which yet remained, to renew those that had 
been weakened by accident and time, and to weave 
more strongly in his heart the affections which were 
rapidly becoming more few ; that we have turned to 
them again and again, and have entered fully into the 
feeling with which he contended, even to the last, to 
take up his pen in affectionate communion with his 

UF£ OF J£FFER80K« 235 

friends, though suffering severely from the infirmities 
of age. " While writing to you," he says to Mr. 
Adams, " I lose the sense of these things in the recol- 
lection of ancient times, when youth and health made 
happiness out of every thing. I forget for a while the 
hoary winter of age, when we can think of nothing 
but how to keep ourselves warm, and how to get rid of 
our heavy hours, until the friendly hand of death shall 
rid us of all at once." 

And of this correspondence, the most interesting 
jportion is that which Mr. Jefferson, towards the close 
of his life, held with Mr. Adams. They had, says 
another writer, been coadjutors in former days of trial 
i^nd danger. They had labored side by side in the 
same field. At length the separation of parties estran- 
ged them from each other. Each retired from the helm 
of state to his farm, his family, and his books. Their 
^arly companions had almost all disappeared; and 
they left alone among a new generation. The jealousies 
inseparable from their late rivalry, neither of them 
wished any longer to feel or acknowledge, and what- 
ever remained gradually gave place to the recollec- 
tions of their ancient friendship. The infirmity of 
advanced age, which shows itself in the forgetfulness 
of recent events, while those of former days are still 
fresh in the mind, came in aid of their good feelings. 
They more readily forgot the recent estrangement, 
and more easily returned to their former attachment. 
There was only wanting something to give occasion to 
the renewal of their correspondence. It thus occur, 
red. Two of Mr. Jefferson's neighbors having, by r 

the invitation of Mr. Adams, passed the day with him ) 


at Braintree, he remarked upon the injustice done by 
the licentiousness of the press to Mr. Jefferson, adding, 
" I always loVed Jefferson, and still loVe him." Mr. 
Jefferson in relating this anecdote, subjoins, " This is 
enough for me. I only needed this acknowledgment 
to revive towards him all the affections of the most 
cordial moments of our lives." The ensuing remarks 
do honor to his candor and liberality. 

** Changing a single word only in Dr. Franklin's 
character of him, I knew him to be always an honest 
man, often a great one, but sometimes incorrect and 
precipitate in his judgements ; and it is known to those 
who had ever heard me^peak of Mr. Adams, that I 
have ever done him justice myself, and defended him 
when assailed by others, with the single exception as 
to his political opinions. But with a man possessing 
so many other estimable qualities, why should we be 
dissocial ized' by mere differences of opinion in poli- 
tics, in religion, in philosophy, or in any thing else. 
His opinions are as honestly formed as my own. Our 
different views of the same subject are the result of 
a difference in our organization and experience. I 
never withdrew from the society of any man on this 
account, although many have done it from me ; much 
less should I do it from one with whom I had gone 
through with hand and heart so many trying scenes. 
I wish, therefore, but for an appropriate occasion to ex. 
press to Mr. Adams my unchanged affections for him." 

Their former friendship thus revived, they continued 
to communicate to each other their opinions on gov- 
ernment, morals and religion. They amused their 
leisure by reviewing the speculations of Pytliagoras 


ftnd Plato, of Epicurus and Cicero, and derived a new 
pleasure from the studies of their youth, by applying 
to them the results of their long experience. The ar- 
mour which, like old soldiers after their dismission from 
honorable service, they could no longer use, it was 
their pride to keep polished, and retain in their sight. 
While the busy world around them was engaged in the 
contentions of party, or of business, they were peace* 
fully interchanging their reminiscences of early life ; 
inquiring after their surviving and departed compan* 
ions ; correcting inaccurate relations of their own his- 
tory ; or comparing their reflections on the books which 
had become their resource and solace. Their strong* 
est and latest feelings were in favor of the liberty of 
men and of nations : and it is a most interesting fact, 
that the last words of Mr. Adams were those of patri- 
otic ejaculation, responsive to the bell which then 
rung in celebration of the anniversary of our independ- 
ence; and the last letter of Mr. Jefferson was an 
expression of a hopeless wish " to participate with his 
friends in the rejoicings on that day." The same day 
which had marked the most honorable epoch of their 
lives, was that in which Providence gave them the 
privilege to die. 

It is from this portion of his works, too, as has been 
observed, that we obtain the best view of his general 
character and sentiments, which are poured out in his 
letters with full and unaffected freedom ; and it is from 
these that we shall make such extracts as may impress 
on our readers more correctly and clearly his peculiar 
personal traits. His habits and occupations, after 
his retirement from office enabled him to arrange 


them itith niore satisfaction and regularity^ are best 
described in his own words, which we select from dif- 
ferent parts of his correspondence. 

^< I live so much like other people, that I might reft^ 
to ordinary life as the history of my own. Like my 
friend Dr. Rush, I have lived temperately, eating little 
animal food, and that not as an aliment so much as a 
condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my prin- 
cipal diet. I double, however, the doctor's glass and 
a half of wine, and even treble it with a friend ; but 
halve its effects by drinking the weak wines only. — 
Xhe ardent wines I cannot drink, nor do I use ardent 
spirits in any form. Malt liquors, and cider are my 
table drinks, and my breakfast, like that also of my 
friend, is of tea and coffee. I have been blest with 
organs of digestion which accept and concoct, without 
ever murmuring, whatever the palate chooses to con- 
sign to them, and I have not yet lost a tooth by age. 
I was a hard student until I entered on the business of 
life, the duties of which leave no idle time to those dis- 
posed to fulfil them ; and now retired, and at the age 
of seventy-six, I am again a hard student. Indeed, 
my fondness for reading and study revolts me from 
the drudgery of letter writing ; and a stiff wrist, the 
consequence of an early dislocation, makes writing 
both slow and painful. I am not so regular in my 
sleep as the doctor says he was, devoting to it from 
five to eight hours, according as my company or the 
books I am reading interests me ; and I never go to 
bed without an hour or half hour's previous reading of 
something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals 
of sleep. But whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise 


with the sun. I use spectacles at night; but not necessa- 
rily in the day, unless in reading small print. My hear- 
ing is distinct in particular conversation, but confused 
when several voices cross each other, which unfits me 
lor the society of the table. I have been more fortu- 
nate than my friend in the article of health. So free 
from catarrhs, that I have not had one (in the breast, I 
mean) on an average of eight or ten years through 
life. I ascribe this exemption partly to the habit of 
bathing my feet in cold water every morning, for sixty 
years past. A fever of more than twenty- four hours I 
have not had above two or three times in my life. — 
A periodical headache has afflicted me occasionally, 
once, perhaps, in six or eight years, for two or thi:ee 
weeks at a time, which seems now to have left me. 
Retired at Monticello, in the bosom of my family, 
and surrounded by my books, I enjoy a repose to 
which I was long a stranger. My mornings are de- 
voted to correspondence. From breakfast to dinner, I 
am in my shops, my garden, or on horesback among 
my farms; from dinner to dark, I give to society and 
recreation with my neighbors and friends ; and from 
candle light to early bed time, I read. My health is 
perfect ; and my strength considerably reinforced by 
the activity of the course I pursue ; perhaps it is as 
great as usually falls to the lot of one of my age. I 
talk of ploughs and harrows, seeding and harvesting, 
with my neighbors, and of politics, too, if they choose, 
with as little reserve as the rest of my fellow citi- 
eens, and feel at length the blessing of being free 
to say and do what I please, without being responsible 
for it to any mortal. A part of my occupation, and by 

840 LiP£ aw nvrwRwoK* 

no means the least pleasing, is the direction of ibe 
studies of such young men as ask it. They place 
themselves in the neighboring village, and have the 
use of my library and counsel, and make a part of tny 
society. In advising the course of their reading, I 
endeavor to keep their attention fixed on the main 
objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of 
man. So that coming to bear a share in the councils 
and government of their country, they will ever keep 
in view the sole objects of all legitimate government. 
As to politics, of which 1 have taken final leave, I 
think little of them, and say less. I have given up 
newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, 
for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much the 
happier. Sometimes, indeed, I look back to former 
occurrences, in remembrance of our old friends and 
fellow laborers who have fallen before us. Of the 
signers of the Declaration of Independence, I see now^ 
living, not more than half a dozen north of the Poto- 
mac, and on this side, myself alone. You (Mr. 
Adams) and I have been wonderfully spared, and my- 
self with remarkable health, and a considerable activ. 
ity of body and mind. I am on horseback three or 
four hours of every day ; visit three or four times a 
year, a possession I have ninety miles distant, perform^ 
ing the winter journey on horseback. I walk little, 
however ; a single mile being too much for me ; and 
I live in the midst of my grandchildren, one of whom 
has lately promoted me to be a great grandfather. I 
have heard with pleasure that you also retain good 
health, and a greater power of exercise in walking 
than I do. But I would rather have heard this from 

LiPfe OP ifiFF£RSON. . 241 

youraelf) and that, writing a letter like mine, full of 
egotisms, and of details of your health, your habits, 
occupations, and enjoyments, I should have the pleas- 
ure of knowing, that in the race of life, you do not 
keep, In its physical decline, the same distance ahead 
of me, which you have done in political honors and 
achievements. No circumstances have lessened the 
interest I feel in these particulars respecting yourself; 
none have suspended for one moment my sincere es- 
teem for you, and I now salute you with unchanged 
affection and respect." 

The Duke of Saxe Weimar, who was in this country 
in 1825 and 1826, thus, at this late period, describes 
the appearance of the sage of Monticello, who had in- 
vited him to dine. 

'^ Our long walk caused such a delay,-that we found 
the company at table when we entered ; but Mr. Jefier. 
son came very kindly to meet us, forced us to our seats, 
and ordered dinner to be served up anew. He was an 
old man of eighty-two years of age, of tall stature, 
plain appearance, and long white hair. 

*^ In conversation he was very lively, and his spirits, 
as also his hearing and sight, seemed not to have de- 
creased at all with his advanced age. I found him a 
man who retained his faculties remarkably well in his 
old age, and one would have taken him for a man of 

The following letter of Mr. Je&rson to his young 

relative, though long, it so full of good sense and 

sound adviee» that w# oaiini^ avoid inserting H. It 

1VIM wnlteo somewhat tefiMns the period to which we 

kaKPe now arrived. 



" Your situation, thrown at such a distance from us 
and alone cannot but give us all great anxieties for you. 
As much has been secured for you by your particular 
position and acquaintance to which you have been re- 
commended, as could be done towards shielding you 
from the dangers which surround you. But thrown on 
a wide world, among entire strangers, without a friend 
or guardian to advise, so young, too, and with so little 
experience of mankind, your dangers are great, and 
still your safety must rest on yourself. A deternnina- 
tion never to do what is wrong, prudence, and good 
humor, will go far towards securing to you the esti- 
mation of the world. When I recollect, that at fourteen 
years of age, the whole care and direction of myself 
was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or 
friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect 
the various sorts of bad company with which I asso- 
ciated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn 
off with some of them, and become as worthless to 
society as they were. I had the good fortune to become 
acquainted very early with some characters of very 
high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I 
could ever become what they were. Under temptations 
and difficulties, I would ask myself what would Dr. 
Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph, do in this situa- 
tion? What course in it will ensure me their appro- 
bation ? I am certain that this mode of deciding on 
my conduct tended more to its correctness than any 
reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even and 
dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a 
moment which of two courses would be in character 
for them. Whereas, seeking the fame object trough 

Llirfi OF SEFFtRSOK. 243 

a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaundiced 
eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the 
circumstances of my position, 1 was often thrown into 
the society of horSe-racers, card players, fox-hunters, 
scientific and professional men, and of dignified men ; 
and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusi- 
astic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a 
favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently ar- 
gued at the har, or in the great council of the nation, 
well, which of these kinds of reputation should I pre* 
fer ? That of a horse jockey ? a fox-hunter ? an orator ? 
or the honest advocate of my country's rights ? Be 
assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little returns 
into ourselves, this self catechizing hahit, is not trifling, 
nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and 
steady pursuit of what is right. 

''I have mentioned good humor as one of the pre- 
servatives of our peace and tranquillity. It is among 
the most efiectual, and its effect is so well imitated 
and aided, artificially, by politeness, that this also be- 
comes an acquisition of first- rate value. In truth, po- 
liteness is artificial good humor ; it covers the natural 
want of it, and ends by rendering habitual a substitute 
nearly equivalent to the real virtue. It is the practice 
of sacrificing to those whom we meet in society, all the 
little conveniences and preferences which will gratify 
them, and deprive us of nothing worth a moment's 
consideration; it is the giving a pleasing and flattering 
turn to our expressions, which will conciliate others, 
and make them pleased with us as well as them- 
selves. How cheap a price for the good will of an- 
other! When this is in return for a rude thing said 

d44 Lirft oir ittFftRMH. 

by another, it brings him to his senses, it mortifi^ ftUd 
oorrects him in the most salutary way, and places him 
at the feet of your good nature, in the eyes of the com* 
pany. But in stating prudential rules for our govern- 
ment in society, I must not omit the important one of 
never entering into dispute or argument with jmother. 
I never yet saw an instance of one of two disputants 
convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, 
of their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting 
^e another. Conviction is the effect of our own dis* 
passionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing 
within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from 
others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves. 
It was one of the rules, which, above all others, made 
Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, 
* never to contradict any body.' If he was urged to 
announce an opiqion, he did it rather by asking ques- 
tions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts. 
When I hear another express an opinion which is not 
mine, I say to myself, he has a right to his opinion, as 
I to mine; why should I question it? His error 
does me no injury; and shall I become a Don Quixote, 
to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion I 
If a fact be misstated, it is probable he isi^ratified by a 
belief of it, and I have no right to deprive him of tlie 
gratification. If he wants information, he will ask it, 
and then I will give it in measured terms ; but if he 
Mill believ^es his own story, and shows a desire to dis- 
pute the fact with me, I hear him, and say nothing.-^ 
It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers error. There 
are two classes of disputants most frequently to be met 
with among us« The first ip of yoong students, jusi 

Lira w iBrraRscm. £45 

Entered the threshold of science, with a first view of its 
outlines, not yet filled up with the details and modifica- 
tions which a further progress would bring to their 
knowledge. The other consists of the ill-tempered 
and rude men in society, who have taken up a passion 
for polities. (Good humor and politeness never in* 
troduce into. mixed society a question on which they 
foresee there will be a difference of opinion.) From 
both of those classes of disputants, my dear Jefierson, 
keep aloof, as you would from the infected subjects 
of yellow fever or pestilence. Consider yourself) 
when with them, as among the patients of Bedlam^ 
needing medical more than morai counsel. Be a lis- 
tener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to 
establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially 
on politics. In the fevered state of our country, no 
good can ever result from any attg^ipt to set one of 
these fiery zealots to rights, either in fact or principle. 
They are determined as to the facts they will believe, 
and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, 
therefore, as you would by an angry bull : it is not for a 
man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal. 
You will be more exposed than others to have these 
animals shaking their horns at you, because of the re- 
lation in which you stand with me. Full of political 
venom, and willing to see me and to hate me as a chief 
in the antagonist party, your presence will be to them 
what the vomit-grass is to a sick dog, a nostrum for 
producing ejaculation. Look upon them exactly with 
that eye, and pity them as objects to whom you can 
administer only occasional ease. My character is not 
wkUtt their powar* It b in tha hands of my fallow 

2M ktrs or JEFTSMtti. 

eilixem at large, and will be consigned to honer or 
iofamy by the verdict of the republican mass of our 
country, according to what themselves will have seen, 
not what their enemies and mine shall have said." 

The following touching letter to a friend, was ooca- 
aioned by the loss of one of his two children. 

** My loss is great indeed. Others may lose of their 
abundance, but I, of my want, have lost even the half 
of all that I had. My evening prospects now hang 
en the slender thread of a single life. Perhaps I may 
be destined to see even this last cord of parental afiec- 
tiou broken. The hope with which I had looked for. 
ward to the moment, when, resigning public cares to 
younger hands, I was to retire to that domestic com- 
fort from which the last great step is to be taken, is 
fearfully blighted. When you and I look back at the 
country over wi^ch we have passed, what a field of 
slaughter does it exhibit ! Where are all the friends 
who entered it with us, under all the inspiring ener- 
gies of health and hope ? As if pursued by the hav* 
oc of war, they are strewed by the way, some earlier, 
some later, and scarce a few stragglers remain to count 
the numbers fallen, and to mark yet by their own 
fall, the last footsteps of their party. Is it a desirable 
thing to bear up through the heat of the action, to 
witness the death of all our companions, and merely 
be the last victim ? I doubt it. We have, however, 
the traveller's consolation: every step shortens the 
distance we have to go ; the end of our journey is in 
sight, the bed wherein we are to rest, and to rise in the 
midst of the friends we have lost* * We sorrow not, 
then« a»other8 who bare no ho|^,' but look forwitfd IP 


the day which 'joins us to the great miQOFky/ Bat 

whatever is to he our destiny, wisdom, as well as duty, 
dictates that we should acquiesce in the will of Him 
whose it is to give and take away, and be contented in 
the enjoyment of those who are still permitted to be 
with us. Of those connected by blood, the number 
does not depend on us. But friends we have, if we 
have merited them. Those of our earliest years stand ' 
nearest in our affections. But io this, too, you and I 
have been unlucky. Of our college friends (and they 
are the dearest) how few have stood with us in the great 
political questions which have agitated our country ? 
and these were of a nature to justify agitation. I did 
not believe the Lilliputian fetters of that day strong 
enough to have bound so many." 

One of the last of Mr. Jefferson's letters, was writ- 
ten near the close of his life. It is addressed to a 
young person for whom he appears to have had an af. 
fectionate regard, and is summed up in these solemn 
and impressive terms < 

" This letter will, as to you, be as one from the 
dead. 1 he writer will be in the grave before you can 
weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent 
father, has requested that I should address to you 
something which might possibly have a favorable in. 
fluence on the course of life you have to run, and I, 
too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. 
Few words will be necessary with a good disposition 
on your part. Adore God. Reverence aud cherish 
your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and, 
your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. 
U^rmxt not at the ways of Prpvid^<?e. S9 shall th« 

248 LIF& OP jBrpftRSdN. 

life into which you have entered, be the portal to one of 
eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is 
permitted to care for the things of this world, every ac* 
tion of vour life will be Under my regard. Farewell.'* 
Shortly after Mr. Jefferson's return to Monticello, it 
having been proposed to form a college in his neigh- 
borhood, he addressed a letter to the trustees, in which 
he sketched a plan for the establishment of a general 
system of education in Virginia. This appears to have 
led the way to an act of the legislature in the year 
1818, by which commissioners were appointed with 
authority to select a site and form a plan for a univer- 
sity on a large scale. Of these commissioners, Mr. 
Jefferson was unanimously chosen the chairman, and 
on the fourth day of August, 1818, he framed a report, 
embracing the principles on which it was proposed 
the institution should Le formed. The situation select* 
ed for it was at GhaHottesville, a town at the foot of the 
mountain on which Mr. Jefferson resided. The plan 
was such as to combine elegance and utility, with the 
power of enlarging it to any extent which its future 
prosperity may require; the instruction extended to 
the various branches of learning which a citizen will 
require in his intercourse between man and man, in 
the improvement of his morals and faculties, and in 
the knowledge and exercise of his social rights. Such 
en education, Mr. Jefferson observes, "generates hab- 
its of application and the love of virtue ; and con. 
trols, by the force of habit, any innate obliquities in 
our moral organization. We should be far, too, from di- • 
couraging the persuasion, that man is fixed, by the law 
of his nature, at a given point; that his ImprovemcBt 


is a chimera, and the hope delusive of rendering oulf- 
selves wiser, happier, or better than our lbrefkther« 
were. We need look back only half a century, td 
times which many now living remember well, and se« 
the wonderful advances in the sciences and arts which 
have been made within that period. 6orae ef fhes^ 
have rendered the elements themselves sub&eriyei5t to 
the purposes of man, have harnessed them to the yoke 
of his labors, and effected the great blessings of mod- 
erating his own, of accomplishing what was beyond 
his feeble force, and of extending the comforts of life 
to a much enlarged circle, to those who had before 
known its necessaries only. That these are not the 
vain dreams of sanguine hope, we have before our 
eyes real and living examples. What but education 
has advanced us beyond the condition of our indige- 
nous neighbors ? and what chains them to their pres- 
ent state of barbarism and wretchedness, but a bigoted 
veneration for the supposed superlative wisdom of 
their fathers, and the preposterous idea that they are 
to look backward for better things, and not forward^ 
longing, as it should seem, to return to the days of eat*, 
ing acorns and roots, rather than indulge in the degen- 
eracies of civilization ? And how much more encour- 
aging to the achievements of science and improvement 
is this, than the desponding view that the condition of 
man cannot be meliorated, that what has been must 
ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are, 
we must tread, with awful reverence, in the footsteps 
of our fathers. This doctrine is the genuine fruit of 
. the alliance between church and state, the tenants of 
which, finding themselves but too well in their present 


position, oppose all advances which might unmask 
their usurpations, and monopolies of honors, wealth, 
and power, and fear every change, as endangering the 
comforts they now hold." 

The report then proceeds to state the various ar- 
rangements which should be adopted, for the conduct 
of so extensive an institution; and concludes viith a 
statement of its financial situation. The plan thus 
proposed was adopted by the legislature. " Mr. Jefier- 
son was elected the rector of the new institution, and 
from that period he devoted himself with unceasing 
ardor to carry it into effect. Nothing, indeed^ could 
exceed his fond desire for its success. It appeared to 
be the object of all his hopes and thoughts in the de- 
clining years of his life. He rode every morning, 
when the weather would permit, to inspect its pro- 
gress. He prepared with his own hands the drawings 
and plans for the workmen. He stood over them as 
they proceeded with a sort of paternal care and anxie- 
ty, and when the inclemency of the season, or the in- 
firmity of age, prevented his visits, a telescope was 
placed on a terrace near his house, by means of which 
he could inspect the progress of the work. After its 
completion he might often be seen pacing slowly along 
the porticoes or cloisters which extend in front of the 
dormitories of the students, occasionally conversing 
with them, and viewing the establishment with a natur. 
al and honorable pride. In the library is carefully pre* 
served the catalogue written by himself, in which he 
has collected the names, best editions, and value of all 
works of whatever language in literature and- science, 
which he thought necessary to form a complete library; 


Ltins Oil' j£pr£ftdOK. 2&1 

and in examining it, one is really less struck with the 
research and various knowledge required for its com- 
pilation, than the additional proof of that anxious care 
which seemed to search out all the means of fostering 
and improving the institution he had formed.'' 

But from these pleasant occupations he was roused 
to the scenes of worldly suffering which now sur- 
rounded him. With thoughtless generosity, he had 
devoted the zeal of his youth and the experience of his 
maturer years to the service of his fellow citizens, and 
now, in his old age, he found himself doomed to that 
poverty which he had no longer the ability to repel. 
It was, however, an honorable, poverty incurred in 
the . performance of public duties, or private gene- 
rosity, unsullied by extravagance and unattended by 
crime. And it is difficult to imagine how, in his case, 
it could have been avoided. For more than fifty years 
he had been actively engaged in public office, gener- 
ally at a distance from his own estate; and though his 
patrimony was originally large, it could not but be 
impaired by this unavoidable neglect. In retiring 
from the exalted station he had enjoyed, he did not en- 
ter on a less conspicuous scene; he had become iden- 
tified with the greatness and glory of his country, he 
was the object of attraction to crowds of anxious and 
admiring guests, and, unless by coldly closing his 
doors, it was impossible to limit the expenses he was 
thus obliged to incur. 

In this emsrgency, he applied to the legislature of. 
Virginia, who, in the spring of 1826, partially relieved 
him from hi» embarrassment, by authorizing him to 
disposd vf hi« etutes by lottery, in ordw that a faic 


price fi>r them B)%ht be obtained. Wlien soncitic^ 
this pfermissioQ, and after enumerating his many and 
important snrviceB, he concludes: "And what remu- 
neration do I ask ? Money from the treasury ? Not 
a cent. I ask nothing from the earnings or labors of 
my fellow citizens. I wish no man's comforts to be 
abridged for the enlargement of mine. For the ser- 
vices rendered on all occasions, I have been always 
paid to my ftrll satisfaction. I never wished a dollar 
more than what the law had fixed on. My request is 
only to be permitted to sell my own property freely to 
pay my own debts. To sell it, I say, and not to siicri' 
Jkt it ; not to have it gobbled up by speculatojrs to 
make fortunes for themselves, leaving unpaid those 
who have trusted to my good faith, and myself without 
resouroe in the last and most helpless stage of life. If 
permitted to sell it in a way which will bring me a fair 
price, all will be. honorably and honestly paid, and a 
competence left for myself, and for those who look to 
me for subsistence. To sell it in a way which will 
offend no moral principle, and expose none to risk but 
the willing, and those wishing to take the chance of 
gain. To give me, in short, that permission which you 
often allow to others for purposes not more moral." It 
was on this occasion that he produced his " thoughts 
on lotteries;" in which the arguments are at least 
specious, if not sound ; and in which he endeavors to 
show, with what success we will enable the reader ^ 
judge, the objections urged a|rain8t lotteries equally 
militate i^aiaat othdv speculatione which have never 
beoa thought oppoeod to morality or p^prietf . A 

Life of jefferson. 253 

short extract may not be uninteresting, and will prove 
the still unsubdued vigor of his pen : 

" It is a common idea, that games of chance are immoral. 
But what is chance ? Nothing happens in this world without 
a cause. If we know the cause, we do not call it chance ; but 
if we do not know it, we saj it was produced by chance. If 
we see a loaded die turn its lightest side up, we know the cause, 
and that is not an effect of ehance; but whatever side aa 
unloaded die turns up, not knowing the cause, we say it is the 
effect of chance. Yet the morality of a thing cannot depend 
on our knowledge or ignorance of its cause. Not knowing 
ivhy a particular side of an unloaded die turns up, cannot make 
the act of throwing it, or of betting on it, imiaoraL If wis 
consider games of chance immoral, then every pursuit of hu. 
man industry is immoral, for there is not a single one that is 
not subject to chance ; not one wherein you do not risk a loss 
for the chance of some gain. The navigator, for example, 
risks his ship in the hope (if she is not lost in her voyage) of 
gaining an advantageous freight. The merchant risks his 
cargo to gain a better price for it. A landholder buflds a house 
on tlie risk of indemnifying himself by a rent. The hunter 
hazards his time and trouble in the hopes of killin|; game. In 
all these pursuits, you stake some one thing agamst another 
which you hope to win. But the greatest of all gamblers is 
the farmer. He risks the seed he puts into the ground, the 
rent he pays for the ground itself, the year's labor on it, and 
the wear and tear of his cattle and gear, to win a crop, which 
the chances of too much or too little rain, and general uncer. 
taintics of weather, insects, waste, &lc, &c. oflen make a totsd 
or partial loss. These, then, are games of chance. Yet so 
far from being immoral, they are indispensable to the exist, 
ence of man, and every one has a natural right to choose for 
his pursuit such one of them as he thinks most likely to furnish 
him subsistence. Almost all these pursuits of chance produce 
something useful to society. But there are some which pro- 
duce nothing, and endanger the well-being of the individuals 
engaged in them, 8t of others depending on them. Such are 
games with cards, dice, billiards, &c. And although the pur. 
Buit of them is a matter of natural right, yet society, perceiv- 
ing the irresistible bent of some of its members to pursue them« 
and the ruin produced by them to the families depending on 
these individuals, consider it as a case of insanity, quoad hoc, 
step in to protect the family and the party himself, as in other 
cases of insanity, infancy, imbecility, ic., and suppress the 
pursuit altogether, and the natural right of following it. There 
are some other games of chance, useful on certain occasions, 
and injurious only when carried beyond their useful bounds. 



Aueh are ensorances, lotteries, raffles, &c. TbcHO they do not 
■apprem, bat take theur regulation under their own discretion. 
The ensnranoe of ships on voyages is a vocation of chance, yet 
useful, and the right to exercise it, therefore, is left free. So of 
houses against fire, doubtful debts, the continuance of a particu- 
iar life, and similar cases. Money is wanting for a useful under, 
taking, as a school, ^c, for which a direct tax would be disap. 
proved. It is raised, therefore, by a lottery, wherein the lax is 
laid on the willing only, that is to saj, on those who can risk the 
price of a ticket without sensible injury, for the possibility of a 
higher prize. An article of property, insusceptible of division at 
all, or not without great diminution of its worth, is sometimes of 
so large value as that no purchaser can be found, while the owner 
owes debts, has no other means of payment, and his creditors no 
other chance of obtaining it but by its saleata fhll and fair price. 
The lottery is here a salutaij instrument for disposing of it, 
where many run small risks ror the chance of obtaining a high 
prize. In this way, the great estate of the late Colonel Byrd (in 
1756) was made competent to pay his debts, which, had the whole 
been brought into the market at once, would have overdone the 
demand, would have sold at half or quarter the value, and sacri. 
ficed the creditors, half or three fourths of whom would have 
lost their debts. This method of selling was formerly very 
much resorted to, until it was thought to nourish too much a 
spirit of hazard. The legislature were therefore induced, not 
to suppress it altogether, but to take it under their own special 
regulation. This they did, for the first time, by their act of 1769, 
o. 17, before which time, every person exercised the right freely; 
and since which time, it is made unlawful but when approved 
and authorized by a special act of the legislature. 

** We have seen, then, that every vocation in life is subject 
to the influence of chance ; that so far from being rendered 
immoral by the admixture of that ingredient, were they aban. 
doned on that account, man could no longer subsist; that among 
them, every one has a natural right to choose that which he 
thinks most likely to give him comfortable subaistenee ; but that 
while the greater number of these pursuits are productive of 
something which adds to the necesiiaries and comforts of life, 
others again, such as cards, dice, &c. are entirely unproductive, 
doing good to none, injury to many, yet so easy, and so reducing 
in practice to men of a certain constitution of mind, that they 
cannot resist the temptation,, be the consequences what they 
may ; that in this case, as in those of insanity, idiocy, infancy, 
&.C., it is the duty of society to take them under its protection, 
even against their own acts, and to restrain their right of choioe 
of these pursuits, by suppressing them entirely ; that there are 
others, as lotteries particularly, which although liable to chance 
also, are useful for roan^ purposes, and are therefore retained 
and placed under the discretion of the legislature,, to be per. 
roitted or refused according to the circumstances of every special 


case, of which they are to jlidse ; that between the years 1789 
and 18S20, a space of thirty-eignt ^ears only, we have observed 
seventy cases, where the permission of them has been found 
useful by the legislature, some of which are in progress at this 
time, 'i'hese cases relate to the emolument of the whole state, 
to local benefits of education, ^f navigation, of roads, of coun- 
ties, towns, religious assemblies, private societies, and of indi- 
viduals under particular circumstances which may claim indul- 
gence or favor. The latter is the case now submitted to the 
legislature, and the question is, whether the individual soliciting 
their attention, or his situation, may merit that degree of con* 
■ideration which will justify the legislature in permitting him 
to avail himself of the mode of selling by lottery, for the purpoM 
of paying his debts.** 

But few more incidents belong to the eventful life of 
Mr. Jefferson. The full vigor of his mind, indeed, 
remained unimpaired until a very short period before 
he fell into the grave. The few remaining circum- 
stances attending the close of his life, we give in the 
words of the " American Biography,^' a work to which 
we have already acknowledged our obligations. No 
language more appropriate could be employed, and no 
one seems better qualified than this author to portray 
the final scene of departing greatness. 

" The year 1826 being the fiftieth since the estab* 
lishment of our independence, it was determined uni- 
versally throughout the United States, to celebrate it 
as a jubilee, with unusual rejoicing ; preparations to 
this end were made in every part of the country ; and 
all means were taken to impart to the celebration the 
dignity which was worthy of the country and the event. 
The citizens of Washington, the metropolis of the na- 
tion, among other things invited Mr. Jefferson, as one 
of the surviving signers of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, to unite with them in their festivities ; this 
request he was obliged to declipe; but the letter in 


which he signified his regret, is left to us as a monu- 
ment of his expiring greatness. On the twenty-fourth 
of June, when the hand of death was already upon 
him, he expressed in this letter all those characteristic 
sentiments which through life had so strongly marked 
him — ^the delight with which he looked hack to the pe- 
riod, when his country had made its glorious election 
between submission and the sword — ^the joy he felt in 
its consequent prosperity — ^the hope he indulged, that 
the time would yet come when civil and religious free- 
dom should bless all the world — his ardent wish, that 
the return of that day should keep fresh in us the recol- 
lection of our rights, and increase our devotion to them^ 
and the affectionate remembrance with which he dwell 
on the kindness he had experienced from his fellow 
citizens. He thus addresses the Mayor of Washing- 
ton: — 

* Respected sir — ^The kind invitation I received from 
you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Wash- 
ington, to be present with them at their celebration of 
the fiftieth anniversary of American independence, as 
one of the surviving signers of an instrument, pregnant 
with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flatter- 
ing to myself, and heightened by the honorable ac- 
companiment proposed for the comfort of such a jour- 
ney. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to 
be deprived by it of a personal participation in the re- 
joicings of that day ; but acquiescence under circum- 
stances is a duty not placed among those we are per- 
mitted to control. I should, indeed, with peculiar de- 
light, have met and exchanged there, congratulations, 
personally, with the small band, the remnant of the 


host of worthies who joined with us, on that day, in the 
bold and doubtful election we were to make for our 
country, between submission and the sword; and to 
have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our 
fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and 
prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. 
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to 
some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) 
the signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under 
which monkish ignorance and superstition had per- 
suaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the 
blessings and security of self-government. The form 
which we have substituted, restores the free right to 
the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opin- 
ion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of 
man. The general spread of the lights of science, 
has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, 
that the mass of mankind has not been born with sad- 
dles on their backs, 'nor a favored few, booted and 
spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace 
of God. These are grounds of hope for others ; for 
ourselves, let the annual return of this day for ever 
refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undi- 
minished devotion to them. I will ask permission 
here, to express the pleasure with which I should have 
met my ancient neighbors of the city of Washington 
and its vicinities, with whom I passed so many years 
of a pleasing social intercourse — an intercourse which 
so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, 
and left impressions so deeply engraved in my afi!ec- 
tions, as never to be forgotten. With my regret that 

ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, 



be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whon^ 
you write, the assurance of my highest respect and 
friendly attachments.' 

" Soon after this letter was written, the indisposition 
of Mr. Jefferson assumed a more serious character. 
He had been for some time ill, though it was not un- 
til the twenty-sixth of June that he was obliged to con- 
fine himself to his bed. The strength of his constitu- 
tion, and freedom from bodily pain, for a short time 
encouraged the hope that his illness was merely tem- 
porary. He himself, however, felt the conviction that 
his last hour was approaching. He had already lived 
beyond the limits ordinarily assigned to human exist- 
ence, and for some months past, the whole tone of his 
conversation showed that he was looking forward to 
its termination, with a calmness and equanimity worthy 
of his past life. * I do not wish to die,' he was in the 
habit of saying to the intimate friends around hino, 
' but I do not fear to die. Acquiescence under cir- 
cumstances is a duty we are permitted to control.' 
He declared, that could he but leave his family un- 
embarrassed, and see the child of his old age, the uni- 
versity, fairly flourishing, he was ready to depart — 
Nunc dimkUs Domine, the beautiful ejaculation of the 
Hebrew prophet, was his favorite quotation. May 
God and his country grant the fulfilment of his dying 
wishes. On the second of July, the complaint with 
which he was afflicted left him ; but his physician ex- 
pressed his fears that his strength might not prove suf- 
ficient to restore him from the debility to which it had 
reduced him ; conscious himself that he could not re- 
cover, and free from all bodily and apparently from all 


mental pain, he calmly gave directions relative to his 
coffin and his interment, which he requested might he 
at Monticello, without parade or pomp ; he then called 
his family around him, and conversed separately with 
each of them; to his beloved daughter, Mrs. Ran- 
dolph, he presented a small morocco case, which he 
requested her not to open until after his death ; when 
the sad limitation had expired, it was found to contain 
an elegant and affectionate strain of poetry, on the 
virtues of her from whom he was thus torn away. 
On Monday, the following day, he inquired of those 
around him with much solicitude, what was the day of 
the month; they told him it was the third of July; he 
then eagerly expressed his desire that he might be per- 
mitted to live yet a little while, to breathe the air of the 
fiftieth anniversary. The wish was granted — the Al- 
mighty hand sustained him up to the very moment 
when his wish was complete ; and then bore him to 
that world, where the pure in heart meet their God." 
Mr. Jefferson expired at Monticello, at ten minutes 
before one o'clock, on the fourth of July, 182i ; within 
the same hour at which, fifty years before, the declara- 
tion of independence had been promulgated. At this 
time he had reached the age of eighty-three years, two 
months, and twenty-one days. 

Thus ripe in years, and rich in fame and good ac- 
tions, departed this venerable father of the republic. 
His services commenced with the freedom and happi- 
ness of his country, and terminated only at her unbound- 
ed prosperity and greatness. But his influence rests 
not here, and the name and opinions of Jefierson are 

yet to be the guides through many generations. His 



laurels were hardly earned and will wear well, and as 
long as "truth is left free to combat error," must 
remain untarnished and unsullied. 

The reader may form and justly appreciate the pub- 
lic character of Mr. Jefferson, from the memoirs which 
he has perused. In that character will, we think, be 
distiguished, independence of mind, firmness and frank- 
ness of conduct, undaunted resolution, and indefatigable 
perseverance. And all these, aided by an intellect no 
less powerful .than acute, no less comprehensive in 
its grasp than minute in its discernment. But perhaps 
the most distinguishing trait in his public character, 
was firm and undeviating consistency. He was swayed 
by the purity of democracy throughout. He has stood 
belbre two generations; and the same political doc- 
trines which he first espoused, he advocated with per- 
severing consistency unto the end. Forming his 
judgements after the best reflections that he could be- 
stow, and after the fullest information he could collect, 
he ever after adhered to them. This may sometimes 
have been the cause of error, but it was also the foun- 
dation of that political and moral firmness which may 
be traced from the very first moment of his entering 
upon life, until its close. 

It has been well observed, that Mr. Jefferson's mind 
partook of the character which he wished to commu- 
nicate to society. His speculations all manifest a feel- 
ing of independence, which allowed no authority to 
restrain him in the indulgence of his thoughts. It is 
remarkable that he never quotes the opinion of any 
other as the foundation or motive of his own. In 
whatever respect he held the reputation of the great 


or learned, he did not pay them the deference of re- 
ceiving their belief or their doctrines without investi- 
gation; for there are few fancies so extravagant in 
morals or philosophy, as not to have received, at some 
period or other, the countenance of great names, and 
to have been allowed by their sanction to pass current 
in society. 

As we have already seen, the principal attempt in 
which his philanthropic efforts were unsuccessful, was 
the gradual emancipation of slaves, and the immedi- 
ate inhibition of the traffic ; and it will also be per- 
ceived that, in his draft of the Declaratfbn of Inde- 
pendence, one of the grievances, ch»tged upon the 
abjured sovereign, was the constant negative which he 
put upon all laws passed in the colonies for the abo- 
lition of the slave trade. His advocacy of the cause 
of slaves is a proof, if any were wanting, that his 
motive for reform was not the desire of popularity, 
and that he was not disposed to flatter public opinion 
in order to obtain its support. On the contrary, he 
dared to attack it in a point where it was the most 
sensitive and intractable. In espousing the cause 
of the slaves, he excited for the most part the jealousy 
of their masters. He could have no motive but the 
honor of his country and the impulse of humanity. 

"Mr. Jefferson resembled Dr. Franklin in the char- 
acter of his mind, and in his fortunes. Neither of 
them had a predilection for political concerns. The 
studies most congenial to their minds were the speco» 
lations of philosophy^ the discoveries of science, and 
the pursuits of natural history. They each had a 
fiMidness for the mechanic arts. Engaged in similar 


objects, they enjoyed abroad the same scientific cor- 
respondence, and arrived at the same classical honors ; 
and the traveller sees with pride their names associated 
and inscribed on the contribution which America has 
made to the learned cabinets of Europe. 

" Dr. Franklin, also, is more known as a writer 
than an orator. Some of his speeches are reported* 
Though they are distinguished by the peculiar and 
extraordinary features of his mind, and were always 
delivered with effect, yet it is remarked, that he never 
spoke longer than ten minutes. Mr. Jefferson too, 
wanting strength of voice, relied altogether upon his 
power of writing ; and as nature is observed to com- 
pensate the loss of one sense by giving more force to 
another, so Mr. Jefferson's disuse of public speaking 
seems to have thrown additional energies in his writ- 
ten composition." 

Mr. Jefferson was the acknowledged head of the 
republican party, from the period of its organization 
down to that of his retirement from public life. The 
unbounded praise and blame which he received as a 
politician, must be left for the judgement of the histo- 
rian and posterity. 

In person, Mr. Jefferson was tall, erect, and well 
formed, though thin ; his countenance was bland and 
expressive ; his conversation fluent, imaginative, vari- 
ous, and eloquent. Few men equalled him in the fac- 
ulty of pleasing in personal intercourse and acquiring 
ascendency in political connexion. His complexion 
was fair, and his features remarkably expressive; his 
forehead broad, the nose not larger, than the common 
size, and the whole face square, and expressive of deep 


thinking. In his conversaticm he was cheerful and 
enthusiastic ; and his language was singularly correct 
and vivacious. His manners were simple and unaf- 
fected, mingled, however, with much native but unob- 
trusive dignity. 

In disposition, Mr. Jefferson was full of liberality 
and benevolence. His charity was unostentatious, but 
bountiful ; a certain portion of his revenue was regu* 
larly applied to maintain and extend it ; and it has been 
remarked, that those who, since his death, have travel- 
led in that part of Virginia where he resided, could not 
fail to be struck wifh the repeated, the grateful, and 
the unpremeditated tributes which are every where 
paid to his memory — ^the constant appeal to his opin- 
ions, the careful remembrance and relation of every 
anecdote affecting his person and his actions. In his 
family he was hospitable to a degree which caused 
poverty to throw some dark shadows over the evening 
of his life ; he was kind to his domestics, by whom it 
was remarked, that no instance had ever occurred in 
which he had lost his temper ; he was warmly attached 
and devoted to his children and relatives, whom he 
loved to assemble around him ; and we have seen how 
bitterly he felt the blow which deprived him of one of 
his two children — a calamity which seems to have 
shaken his affectionate nature to its centre. The sim- 
plicity of the domestic habits of Mr. Jefferson, have 
been already discovered in our extracts from his cor- 

The correspondence of Mr. Jefferson was varied 
and extensive, to a degree that became extremely irk^ 
some in his latter years. On this subject, in the year 


1822, be thus expressed himself to Mr. Adams : " I 
do not know how far you may suffer, as I do, under 
the persecution of letters, of which every mail brings 
a fresh load. They are letters of inquiry, for the most 
part, always of good will, sometimes from friends whom 
I esteem, but much oftener from persons whose names 
are unknown to me, but written kindly and civilly, and 
to which, therefore, civility requires answers. I hap- 
pened to turn to my letter list some time ago, and a 
curiosity was excited to count those received in a single 
year. I found the number to be one thousand two 
hundred and sixty-seven, many of them requiring an- 
swers of elaborate research, and all to be answered with 
due attention and consideration." 

A few words respecting the religious opinions of 
Mr. Jefferson, and we close the volume. He has been 
represented as it suited party rancor : at one time, as 
the atheistical desperado, warring against the God of 
heaven ; at another, as the ribald scoffer, throwing 
malignant sneers upon the declarations of His word. 
But he was far, very far, from being either of these. 
However opposed Mr. Jefferson may have been to 
what he considered the corruptions or abuses of Chris- 
tianity, yet to the spirit and precepts of the gospel he 
was strongly attached ; and of the character of our 
Saviour he was a warm and professed admirer. His 
correspondence is full of declarations to this effect, and 
they are given as the frank and undisguised sentiments 
of his heart. In a letter to his friend,'Drv Rush, he 
thus gives him his views of the Christian religion: 
«• They are," says he, "the-result of a life of inquiry and 
reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian 


system imputed to me by those who kn ow nothing of 
my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity, I 
am, indeed, opposed ; but not to the genuine precepts 
of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense 
in which he wished any one to be ; sincerely attached 
to his doctrines in preference to all others; ascribing 
to himself every human excellence ; and believing he 
never claimed any other." Accompanying this letter, 
was a syllabus of an estimate of the merit of the doc- 
trines of Jesus, in which, among other reasons, he as- 
signs the following for the intrinsic superiority of the 
divine lawgiver : 

"1. He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming 
them in the belief of one only Grod, and giving them 
juster notions of his attributes and government. 

" 2. His moral doctrines, relating to kindred- and 
friends, were more pure and perfect than those of the 
most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so 
than those of the Jews : and they went far beyond both 
in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kin- 
dred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but 
to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under 
the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants, and 
common aids. A development of this head will evince 
the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all 

" 3. The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew 
code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scruti- 
nies into the heart of man ; erected his tribunal in the 
region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the 
fountain head. 

" 4. He taught, emphatically, the doctrineof a future 


State, which was either doubted or disbelieved by the 
Jews ; and wielding it With efficacy, as an important 
incentive, supplementary to the other motives to moral 

In a letter to John Adams are these words : ^^ If by 
religion we are to understand sectarian dogmasy in 
which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on 
that hypothesis is just, ' that this would be the best of 
all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.' — 
But if the moral precepis innate in man, and made a 
part of his physical constitution, as necessary for a 
social being — if the sublime doctrines of philanthropism 
and Deism taught us by Jesus of Nazareth, in which 
all agree, constitute true religion, then without it, this 
would be, as you again say, < something not fit to be 
named, even indeed, a hell.' " 

In another letter to Dr. Waterhouse, he thus express- 
es himself: "The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and 
tend all to the happiness of man. 

<< 1 . That there is one only God, anci he all perfect. 

" 2. That there is a future state of rewards and 

**3. That to love Grod with all thy heart, and thy 
neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion." 

Certainly all this is not the language of an enemy 
to Christianity. It would be a forced service to en- 
rol under the banners of atheism him who has expressed 
such an unhesitating reliance on the controlling ener- 
gies of a superintending Providence ; and one would 
suppose the man who declares that ' this earth would 
be a hell without the religion of Jesus,' would be more 


apt to share with the Bible in the hatred of the scoflfer, 
than be considered his coadjutor in profanity. 

But though Mr. Jefferson's opinion on certain reli- 
gious points should be hostile to our own, how is he 
more culpable than the thousands who have embraced 
different forms of belief? In what respect do his reli« 
gious tenets differ from those of his venerable prede- 
cessor, or from those of his equally celebrated son ? In 
dissenting from the opinion of others ; whose piety and 
wisdom are entitled to veneration, he has not underta- 
ken to advance his own with pride or bitterness. He 
has not condescended to disguise his sentiments for 
fear of provoking opposition, nor has he been ambi- 
tious to obtrude them on the public in the conceit of 
making converts. 

His death tested the sincerity of his faith, and he 
died with that calmness, serenity, and full reliance on 
the mercy of his Maker, which both philosophy and 
religion desire. 








'» v-v 




SEP 4 - j33s